Salem police crack down on sophisticated car theft ring

1 min read

SALEM — A car theft ring with operations extending from New York to New Hampshire was dismantled by the Salem Police Department after a stolen vehicle was tracked to a location off Pelham Road.

On March 20, a Honda CRV reported stolen from the Bronx around 11:30 a.m. was located in Salem by 5 p.m. thanks to tracking information provided by the theft victim.

The car was found with stolen license plates and a tampered Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), but officials were able to positively identify the vehicle through unique identifiers and stickers described by the owner.

Salem detectives initiated surveillance on the vehicle and observed several cars entering the area at approximately 6 p.m., which led to felony traffic stops and the arrest of four individuals.

The subsequent investigation uncovered a complex scheme involving the removal and replacement of VINs on multiple vehicles, including another Honda CRV and an Acura sedan, both confirmed to be stolen and fitted with counterfeit VINs.

One of the cars even had a valid Massachusetts inspection sticker matching a fake VIN and stolen plate.

A fourth vehicle has been seized and is currently under investigation for potential theft.

The probe also unearthed fraudulent car titles and evidence of attempts to register vehicles with fake titles and bills of sale.

The sophisticated nature of the operation was further highlighted by the discovery that the computer programs in each car had been altered to match the new VINs and keys.

The investigation is ongoing, and the Salem Police Department urges anyone with information to contact Detective Dempsey.

The department’s efforts were supported by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, the NYPD, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The case also brought to light limitations in New Hampshire law, specifically RSA 595-A:10, which impeded the search of one of the recovered stolen vehicles.

The 2021 law requires police to obtain consent for vehicle searches only from the operators, not the owners, resulting in a delay in the investigation.

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