MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- Authorities on Long Island and in New Jersey are collaborating in an effort to stop organized car theft rings.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced their plan to track down and arrest those responsible for recent car thefts in Nassau County tied to gangs in Newark.
Officials say 75% of cars stolen in the county are ending up in Newark, and that the vehicles don't end up in chop shops but instead are being used in other crimes.
"Our intelligence has shown that many of these criminals are coming in from Newark, New Jersey, and they have a car theft ring that is plaguing the whole metropolitan area," Blakeman said. "With the assistance of the Newark Police Department and the United States Marshals Office, our Nassau County Police Department is actively investigating crimes in Newark, New Jersey, as well as sending information to the public there to give us those who may have committed the crimes here in Nassau County and other areas in the tri-state region."
Earlier this year, Eyewitness News reporter Anthony Johnson reported on Newark police seeing a disturbing uptick in stolen cars, many coming from Nassau County. (Video from that report is featured in the player above)
Since then, officials have launched an education program reminding residents to lock their cars and take their key fobs with them. They are now taking that campaign to Newark.
"We went to the streets of Newark (Wednesday) with the police department," Ryder said. "We went around to the business district. We went around to food carts. We asked them to hang (the flyer) up. We handed it out to people on the streets...the anonymous tips that come in to us receive up to $5,000 that we will give to you if it leads to the arrest and conviction."
Newark's acting Public Safety Director Raul Malave says car theft rings are behind most of these crimes, and that many of those vehicles are then involved in shootings and armed robberies.
He said the rings also recruit younger members, including 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds, because they will face lesser consequences if they get caught.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 800-244-TIPS.