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Postman robbery leads to arrest of muscle car thieves

Detroit – Thieves use cloned key fobs to steal Dodges muscle car Directly from dealerships and Michigan automakers, it sells other high-performance cars for tens of thousands of dollars less than they’re worth, according to agency and court records.

At one Ohio-based theft organization, it all fell apart after a U.S. postal worker was robbed in January and authorities linked several men to a brazen car theft in the Detroit area. It is now owned by international conglomerate Stellantis.

Investigators then found new Charger, Challenger, Durangos, and Ram pickup trucks worth $50,000 to $100,000 in Indianapolis, Ohio after being sold for $3,500 to $15,000 on the street, according to the criminal complaint. , found at the East Cost shipping port.

Thieves in the Detroit area primarily target Dodge vehicles with Hellcat engines, such as Chargers and Challengers. Macomb Auto Theft Squad’s Jerry Hanna said:

“If you get caught by a cop car, they don’t stop and they’re faster than a cop car. They’re 150 mph all day,” he said.

Instead of stealing from the streets, they’re kicking them straight out of dealership and assembly plant premises.

Just this year, about six vehicles (mostly Dodge Ram TRX pickups) were taken off the grounds outside the Macomb County assembly plant.

After tightening security measures in some sections of Dodge vehicles, Over a dozen 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup trucks It was stolen from a factory in suburban Dearborn in June. At the automaker’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, southeast of Detroit, in early September he had more than a dozen Fords of his Mustangs stolen.

According to federal complaints in the Ohio lawsuit, thieves targeted Dodge using a handheld electronic “pro pad.”

Authorities weren’t looking for the stolen vehicle when they stopped Devin Rice on Jan. 31 in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights after a postal worker had his mailbox keys gunned down. However, according to court records, a search of his car and home revealed stolen mail, fake checks, credit and debit cards, as well as a Ram pickup, a Range Rover SUV, and a Dodge with a Hellcat engine. was also discovered. .

Rice and others were indicted in federal court in Ohio in June. Jalen Harris, Lovell Jones, and Hakim Benjamin were charged with conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. Rice, Harris, and Jones are also charged with mail theft. Their trial is scheduled for next year.

A lawyer for Harris declined to comment. The AP has left email and phone messages seeking comment from lawyers for Benjamin, Rice and Jones.

According to the complaint, Harris told the FBI that he and Jones were in contact with people in the Detroit area through Instagram to obtain the stolen vehicle. Harris said these thieves “also sold to buyers in other areas, including Chicago and Indianapolis.”

A video posted on social media shows how the high-horsepower vehicle overtook and evaded police.

In the detention order, the judge said, “Benjamin drove a 2022 Dodge Challenger valued at $95,000 per hour at 120 mph on a Sunday night in February.”

“Ultimately, spike strips were necessary to remind Benjamin that he was required by law to obey police orders,” the judge wrote.

About two years ago, police in Ottawa County, Ohio, began noticing bombed-out vehicles along State Route 2. The sheriff’s office got a call about reckless driving, Capt. Aaron Leist said.

“These cars are going 140 to 150 mph. They all have Hellcat engines. We chased a lot. We didn’t catch them all,” he said. I was.

Investigators learned that most of the vehicles were stolen in the Detroit area and taken to Cleveland. Some were destined for Memphis, Tennessee, Leist said.

“We started working with (Stellantis) in early 2022,” he said. “They called us and said, ‘These cars are missing.'”

A Stellantis spokeswoman declined to comment.

Some lots include concrete barriers as an additional security measure, law enforcement said.

And last fall, a dealer showroom northwest of Detroit was broken into. Someone drove Ram his pickup through the building’s glass walls and “every other car followed,” said General Manager of his Szott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Highland Township. Jeff his Schneider said.

“I think they found some keys in a desk drawer and used them,” he added.

Police tracked one of the stolen vehicles, a Durango Hellcat SRT worth about $100,000, to a suburb northwest of Detroit. The driver crashed into a brick wall as he fled. The 2021 Dodge Durango GT, 2021 Dodge Ram TRX and 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT have since been recalled.

Authorities arrested four persons. They weren’t believed to have stolen the vehicles, but it is believed he paid $5,000 for one.

“In the Detroit area, they sell for around $3,500,” Hannah said. “If you put that money in your pocket, they’ll go out and steal another.”

The cost is higher for the dealer and their insurance company. Even salvaged vehicles cannot be sold for their former value.

Schneider said his dealer came up with an “old-fashioned” solution. It’s a parking boot.

“It’s a deterrent that works amazingly,” he said. “We put boots on all Hellcats.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.ksat.com/news/national/2022/10/16/postal-worker-holdup-leads-to-muscle-car-theft-ring-arrests/ Postman robbery leads to arrest of muscle car thieves

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