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February 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Police arrest 5 in thefts of brand new cars

Authorities have arrested five people suspected of being part of a organized scheme to steal high-value cars, police announced Thursday evening.

The operation resulted from an investigation by members of Pierce County’s Auto Crime Enforcement Task Force which found that new model vehicles were being stolen from auto dealers up and down the I-5 corridor from Vancouver to Burlington, Lakewood police spokesman Chris Lawler wrote in a news release.

“After stealing the vehicles, the suspects utilized specialized skills in order to switch the vehicle identification numbers found on the dash and other places with cloned VIN numbers from real vehicles for sale in Canada,” Lawler wrote.

“They forged Washington Department of Licensing paper work in the furtherance of the scam in order to sell the disguised stolen cars to unwitting victims.”

The cars were sold via websites such as Craigslist, Lawler said.

Police posing as potential buyers arrested the suspects. They were booked into Pierce County Jail on multiple charges, Lawler wrote.

Several cars were recovered during the investigation with an estimated value of $200,000, Lawler wrote.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Aluto Crime Enforcement, car theft, Chris Lawler

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