Thieves in an international luxury car ring "stalked" New Yorkers' cars street by street, block by block, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said today.
They announced that 14 people were arrested in a ring that involved people based in Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Africa. Those arrested could face up to life in prison, Schneiderman said.
Kelly said that buyers in Africa would detail the make and model of a car they wanted – even requesting details down to accessories, he said.
"These were not random thefts," Kelly said. "The cars were stolen to order."
They targeted Brooklyn neighborhoods, he said, particularly Wiliamsburg.
The thieves would walk the streets of the city until they found the exact make and model they were searching for — and then, they stole it.
In the process, they would be "stalking" the owners, Schneiderman said, tracking their movements so as not to lose the car.
In one Brooklyn incident, a mother dropped off her child at school, only to return home to find the car gone.
"They were essentially stalking the people whose cars they wanted," Schneiderman said.
In total, they took about 180 cars, Kelly said. Police have recovered 29, including four that were shown to reporters this morning, now parked outside One Police Plaza.
The cars would be sold to a dealer for about $10,000 to $12,000, and would then ship them to buyers in Africa at triple that price, Kelly said.
Car thefts are down 13 percent this year from last year, 2,700 so far, and down 95 percent from 1990, Kelly said.
"This crew used the streets of New York as their own personal auto showroom," said Schneiderman.
What they were looking for
The vehicles stolen were valued at more than $1 million, officials said. They included the following cars: