The FBI says it has broken up one of the largest auto theft rings in U.S. history — a “car cloning” operation that went on for more than 20 years.
In such a theft, expensive cars are stolen and their vehicle identification numbers replaced by those belonging to legally obtained vehicles of similar makes from around the country, thus allowing the stolen cars to be sold, the FBI said in a release Tuesday.
The bureau’s “Operation Dual Identity” netted the arrests of 17 suspects in Tampa and Miami, Fla., Chicago, Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico. More than 1,000 vehicles worth a total of $25 million have allegedly been stolen by the ring in Florida, officials said.
Police say they hope to put an end to car cloning through the implementation of the National Motor Vehicle Information system database, which enables state motor vehicle departments to share vehicle registration information with each other.
This has been going on for decades before the FBI learned the word “cloning”. Cripes. I had a business associate back East who did the books for the regional Cosa Nostra. And for a major auto junkyard they owned.
The FBI figured it was just for money laundering when the reality was it was a source for VIN numbers. The same went for several used and new car lots. Get rid of the clunkers. Sell the almost-new hot cars.
These state and federal officers are just figuring out they should talk to each other.