International car theft ring busted

June 30, 2010 2:53:53 PM PDT
A series of raids executed across the city Tuesday night targeted an international car theft ring, authorities said.

The ring based in the Bronx specialized in stealing high end cars from streets, dealerships and parking garages and shipping them overseas to Africa.

The members took orders on specific cars, and then scoured the city looking for the vehicles, according to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Authorities said it involved around 500 cars stolen in the tri-state area each year. The alleged ring-leader, a man named Babacar Lo would tell his team members where to go, what to steal, and how to do it. Then as surveillance video shows, the team would load the cars onto containers that were shipped overseas to senegal in Africa.

Cuomo says 17 people have been indicted in connection to the ring. He said on Wednesday that 16 had been taken into custody.'

"This is a very big case for us. It's a year long investigation," said Attorney General Cuomo.

Authorities spent more than a year investigating the ring. Cuomo said members had specific jobs to carry out, like making keys or shipping the cars. He said some of the those arrested worked in car dealerships in Connecticut and New Jersey.

The ring took a variety of vehicles, from Mercedes and BMWs to Toyotas. Cuomo said the vehicles would be packed into big shipping containers and sent to Africa.

Leather was the preferred interior, silver the preferred color.

Investigators say there are two Toyota dealerships that actually had employees who allegedly helped to steal the vehicles. Detective Christopher Connolly who cracked the case shows off a special device they would use at the dealerships to get new keys to work.

And while thieves have a way of making it look easy once police became aware of this scheme they began extensive surveillance which eventually showed alleged suspects in the Bronx storing cars for a "cool-down" period, then making alleged deals with undercover investigators and a lot of money was at stake.