New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Queens County District
Attorney Richard Brown today announced the arrest of 18 individuals who were
members of an automobile theft ring. The arrests
mark the end of an 11-month
investigation, dubbed "Gone in 60 Seconds," conducted by the New York City
Police Department's Auto Crime Division.
Police Commissioner Kelly said: "While this crime ring was clever, they were
not nearly as sophisticated as the officers tracking them. This was a
comprehensive investigation that resulted in the dismantling of the entire
criminal organization. I congratulate the members of the Auto Crime Division for
their excellent work on this case and I want to thank the Queens District
Attorney and the other agencies who participated in this successful
District Attorney Brown said: "Using duplicate keys for easy entry, the ring
is alleged to have stolen 50 luxury vehicles from owners in the tri-state area.
It is further alleged to have particularly targeted Cadillac Escalades, taking
22 of them including 15 in Brooklyn, three in Queens, one each in the Bronx and
Staten Island and two in New Jersey. According to the charges, the stolen
vehicles and vehicle parts were sold to underground market brokers for shipment
to Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Dominican Republic. Automobile theft drives up
the cost of insurance for all New Yorkers. The charges announced today should
serve notice on criminals that if they engage in these kinds of illegal
enterprises they will be apprehended and prosecuted."
The theft ring specialized in high end vehicles, primarily SUVs. Their scheme
involved a series of steps. All the vehicles were stolen with a set of keys
procured either through the use of fraudulent titles or made
co-conspirator of the group who was an unlicensed locksmith. With an exact
replica of the keys, cars were stolen without breaking locks or glass.
The cars were taken to a garage in Long Island City, Queens where other
members of the ring changed the Vehicle Identification Number from cloned
numbers from Canada. With a set of keys and a new VIN, the cars
bogus titles and registrations from associates operating corrupt title and tag
services in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Despite the care of this group and the intricacy of their process, the
investigators maintained the advantage throughout the investigation. The New
York City Police Department was the landlord of the facility in Queens that the
group used as the base of operations. The garage was wired with cameras and
listening devices allowing for a complete and total picture of the operation.
Over the course of the 11-month investigation, 54 cars passed through the
Long Island City garage. The automobiles, such as Cadillac Escalades and GMC
Yukons, have a total estimated value of over 2.5 million
automobiles were resold along the east coat primarily in Virginia and
Yamil Abraham, the ringleader, was also arrested for criminal sale of a
firearm. Members of the Department's Firearms Investigation Unit bought two
machine guns as a result of a deal brokered by Abraham.
This investigation is ongoing and more arrests are