The Louisville Metro Police Department announced Friday the arrest of six people as part of their investigation into a nationwide luxury car theft ring.
LMPD’s investigation, nicknamed “Operation Havana Highway,” led them to more than 30 stolen cars in Louisville/Jefferson County. They expect that number to rise as they work with other agencies across the country.
”This has spanned across the U.S.” LMPD Det. Brian Reccius said. “Mostly Florida, Texas, [Kentucky], and Ohio.”
Reccius said the thieves are finding ways to make the stolen cars look more legitimate.
“What they’re doing is they’re changing that [VIN] number and creating a fake title,” Reccius said, “and punching the fake title through the county clerk’s office. You’ve essentially created a car that doesn’t exist.”
This process isn’t happening through the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, LMPD said. It’s generally the more lenient, small-town clerks across the U.S.
Some of the stolen cars become daily drivers for the thieves. Others are sold.
“The whole idea of stealing a car, changing the VIN and getting a fraudulent title is a pretty rare event,” CARFAX Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen said.
Olsen said these kinds of thieves are smart, but rarely perfect.
His advice is to allow a trusted mechanic to take a look before you buy your “too-good-to-be-true” luxury car.
“A mechanic can see all the different places, like on the drive shaft or any other places where the VIN has also been etched,” Olsen explained.
The Jefferson County Clerk’s Office provided WAVE with an explanation about how things work and how the process can be taken advantage of if not implemented properly:
“The County Clerk’s Office works to ensure the documentation is in order, so it won’t be rejected by title examiners in Frankfort who serve as the ultimate finalizers…. Per Kentucky statute, though if we have suspicions we can let them know, if the paperwork is filled out, our office must process it and send it to those examiners… For our part of the process, the Office does not serve as a policing agency. If the documentation is in order, we will process it.”
LMPD said their investigation is ongoing and that they expect more arrests to come down the pipeline soon.
They haven’t named the arrested parties or their charges.
Source : Wave3