Huge Bust Hauls in 33 Motorcycle Thieves in New York

New York Motorcycle Theft Ring – Gone in 30 Seconds

Photo courtesy of Bebeto Matthews - AP

A sophisticated gang of motorcycle thieves specialized in grabbing high-dollar motorcycles from some of the best neighborhoods in New York City, but their lucrative theft and smuggling scheme ended this week according to the authorities.

The gang sent out “steal teams” in stolen minivans to case upscale NYC neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Brooklyn Heights and Tribeca on the lookout for Ducatis, Harleys and Hondas. The teams would roll up next to parked bikes, whip open the van doors and heft them inside before making a quick getaway.

“In most instances, this took no more than 30 seconds,” said NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Kelly and and District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the filing of criminal charges against 33 people involved in the ring. The investigation began after a report of a stolen Yamaha in the ritzy Manhattan neighborhood, Tribeca. Following tips and gathering intelligence over the course of the next few months, the coppers discovered that the defendants had swiped more than 60 motorcycles worth about $500,000.

“The streets served as outdoor showrooms where crews would go shopping,” said Kelly.

The gang took in $2,000 on the black market from dealers for each stolen bike. The bikes were then disassembled, wrapped up and shipped to Caribbean and African nations under the guise of “household goods.” And it appears the gang wasn’t above making a little quick cash with ancillary businesses as well. Authorities say members of the gang dealt illegal guns in Harlem to pad the books. It’s alleged an undercover officer purchased some 15 weapons – many they say were smuggled in from Southern states – from the members of the gang. And we’re not talking just handguns. The haul included three semiautomatic assault rifles.

Though they clearly weren’t quite careful enough, investigators say the gang took actions aimed at avoiding detection. Gang members utilized countersurveillance tactics to identify unmarked police vehicles by taking photos of them and passing them out among members of the various “steal teams.”


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