NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Prosecutors have indicted 33 suspects in connection with a motorcycle theft ring that specialized in stealing high-end bikes throughout New York City, authorities said Thursday.
The suspects are charged with stealing 63 motorcycles worth nearly $500,000, prosecutors said.
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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the ring used the city’s streets as their showroom, “shopping” for bikes and then whisking them away in no more than 30 seconds.
“Once a bike was identified, the crew would deploy a van to pick it up, usually a minivan with the seats removed,” Kelly said.
The ring would then sell the bikes on a black market in the Caribbean, prosecutors said.
“This group, we believe, was responsible for over 50 percent of all of the motorcycle thefts in New York City last year,” Kelly said.
Some of the suspects are also charged in connection with an insurance fraud scam and the possession and sale of at least 15 guns, prosecutors said.
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Authorities said the guns, which included rifles, assault weapons and handguns, would be brought to New York from areas in the south.
“This investigation shows the importance of targeting organized groups of criminals,” said District Attorney Cy Vance. “Because illegal guns lead to an increase in violence in the city, we are targeting gun traffickers for prosecution. We will not tolerate the use of our streets as a market for illegal guns trafficked from other states.”
Officials said the indictment Thursday was the result of a 17 month-long investigation of the alleged theft and gun trafficking ring.