Auto Ring Targeted High-End Cars In Bergen

Newark-based thieves targeted cars with keys inside, authorities say

Eleven people have been charged in connection with an auto theft ring that snatched up luxury cars and trucks from some of the more affluent areas of the state and brought them back to Newark, authorities announced Tuesday.

In most cases, vehicles were stolen by , Carolyn Murray, the acting Essex County Prosecutor, said during a press conference in Newark.

“In the late evening or early morning hours, they would identify vehicles of interest to them,” Murray said.

Among the cars recovered Monday night were a Porsche, a Ferrari, two BMWs and a Mercedes-Benz, authorities said. Most of the stolen vehicles were sold for a fraction of their value, while others were chopped for parts, authorities said.

Many of the vehicles may also have been “re-tagged,” authorities said. It's unclear if any of the vehicles were linked to a in Northwest Bergen County, including .

“You go to a salvage lot, you buy a similar car, you get the title for that car, remove the VIN number and place it on the stolen vehicle,” Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Robert Imhof said.

Several of the cars recovered during the investigation were returned to their owners.

Investigators spent hundreds of hours performing surveillance, and arrests took place Monday night at various locations in Essex County, authorities said.

Officials declined to identify which towns the vehicles were stolen from, but did say that several came from Bergen, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The investigation began in August 2011, when the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Newark Police Department noticed an unusual number of stolen vehicles being left in one part of the city had come from communities well outside the area.

“What stood out for them was that a lot of these vehicles were not being stolen locally,” said Samuel DeMaio, the director of the Newark Police Department. “Traditionally our stolen vehicle recoveries are from Irvington, Orange, Elizabeth. These were vehicles being stolen from an array of municipalities, literally from Ocean to Bergen County, with a large number coming from Bergen County.” 

Newark police then contacted law enforcement in those communities, who together launched Operation High-End, which eventually involved the State Police, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and assistance from the Millburn and Jersey City police departments.
“When you have cases like this one come together, where criminals don’t know borders, where they go to other counties in other parts of the state to commit crimes and they come back to another county to seek refuge and plan additional crimes, it truly takes collaboration to be effective,” said Lt. Col. Matt Wilson of the New Jersey State Police.

Patricio Hernandez, 33, of Newark, has been identified as the ringleader, Essex officials said. Also arrested yesterday were Jimmy Nunez, 31, Nathan Ocascio, 20, Efrain “Macho” Rivera, 30, Junior Vazquez, 31, Luis Montalvo, 46 and Melisha “MiMi” Martinez, 22, and a 17-year-old male, all of whom are from Newark.

Also arrested were Miguel Vega, 21, of East Orange, Matthew Policarpio 24, of Bloomfield and Alexander Mayorga, 22, of Elizabeth. 

All were charged with conspiracy to commit theft and receiving stolen property. More arrests may be pending, Murray, the acting prosecutor, said.

Mildred Bayes April 21, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Now I'm afraid to even leave my house knowing those people are lurking out there looking for people driving Lexus's, BMW's, and other expensive cars. I might have to get a P.O.S. beat-up Chevy just to go shopping.
ref April 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
don't flatter yourself CB
Mildred Bayes April 22, 2012 at 03:48 AM
It wouldn't be very flattering to be driving around in a P.O.S. Chevy, now would it. Unless of course I cruise through Mahwah or Paterson where most people will think I'm cool.
ref April 22, 2012 at 10:44 AM
In no way are you cool CB even in your P.O.S. chevy,just sit around in your BIG house without furniture and make fun of others.
JZ April 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM
ref, are you somehow justifying people stealing other peoples stuff?
Mildred Bayes April 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Oh yes, I am very cool, unlike some people here. But let's leave it at that. I have more than enough furniture in my comfortable house; in fact the main piece of furniture in the "playroom" is a king-sized bed. As a rule I do not make fun of others; however, I personally worked hard over the years to obtain creature comforts, including a very nice, very expensive automobile. I'll be damned if I'll allow some low-life to snatch it from me. If they try to bring my car to a "chop shop" they had better be very, very careful. I have On-Star with an automobile locater, so it will be only a matter of time when I find them and chop something of their's off. Then a few auto thieves will be walking bow-legged and singing soprano in the prison choir! With my Smith and Wesson I'm very, very cool; plus calm and collected.
Harlan Consider April 22, 2012 at 10:18 PM
The pro car thieves (i.e. the guys that steal to order for the chop shops) are very knowledgeable about built-in tracing technology in cars. Some can disable the transmitter immediately, while others can get the car to the chop shop within minutes and those guys can usually make the car untraceable within seconds. The high-end cars are typically stolen for export. We're talking very sophisticated thieves here. No amount of tracing technology will prevent that nice new Lexus or Benz from driving in the streets of Latin America or the Middle East within a couple of weeks.
Joe Kelley April 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I'm a victim of car theft. My 1995 Acura Integra was stolen from the Ridgewood park and ride in September 2008. 8 days later I got a call from the investigating detective that my car had been found on a street in Irvington and was at the impound lot. My insurance company required me to go to Irvington to release the car to them so they could determine damages. When I got there I discovered that the engine and transmission had been removed along with the wheels and steering wheel and most of the dashboard - in other words "chopped". It was a 13 yr old car with just over 50k miles on it so I guess the thiefs thought it valuable. I learned - too late - afterwards that my car - long with Camrys and Accords - was in the top ten stolen car category. I cannot express to you in words how violated I felt losing the car I had lovingly taken care of for those 13 years only to have it taken from me and then treated so poorly at the hands of these crooks. I worked hard first to buy the car and then to take such good care of it and I hope these bastards they caught are the ones who took it. Then I might feel a little satisfaction that justice has been served.
William Mays April 23, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Yes because everyone who has a nice car is fake. What you don't understand is that some people work hard for their money, and I'm sure Cathy is no different.
William Mays April 23, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Harlan, Onstar is pretty hard to disable, because the people at the operations center will notice that the transmitter is off. I don't have Onstar, I have BMW Assist, and even if that is disabled, I recently installed a second GPS tracker in the car, and it's pretty much hidden.
Fan of Ridgewood April 24, 2012 at 10:03 PM
When i lived in the Bronx i had 3 cars stolen from me. They were POS old cars. But they were mine and all i could afford at the time. It was a heartache each time when i realized they were stolen. I doubt these POSs will see any jail time.
Mildred Bayes April 25, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Ugh! The Bronx. Are you serious? So now according to you Bill, I'm not exempt even if I go shopping in a P.O.S. Chevy! I may have to pay (minimum wage, of course) "Ref" to do my shopping for me. I just don't feel safe anymore after reading about all the car thefts and crime in Patch.
Mildred Bayes April 25, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I can feel your pain Bill. I'm glad you got out of The Bronx in one piece.
ref April 28, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Hey Mama Obama(excuse me I mean "CB") changing names won't help,maybe you can hide behind a P.O.S. Chevy
William Mays April 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Shes probably afraid you'll try to rob her, since you seem to be so jealous.


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