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Bloomfield, East Orange Men Led Multi-County Auto-Theft Ring State Police said

By rlsmetro on
New Jersey

The New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice have charged six suspects who were allegedly stealing work vans and pickup trucks in northern New Jersey and dismantling them to sell their catalytic converters and other parts for profit. During the month-long investigation dubbed “Operation Cat Burglar,” detectives linked the suspects to more than 30 stolen vehicles, stolen license plates, vehicle titles, and more than $20,000 worth of stolen tools and equipment.

 

In January, law enforcement agencies around the state began investigating a trend in the rise of thefts of work vans and pickup trucks and catalytic converters in northern New Jersey.

 

Officials said during the investigation, detectives identified Mr. David Wilson, 54, of Bloomfield (Image Right), Mr. George Milton, 60, and Mr. Donald Williams, 64, (Image Left) both of East Orange, as the suspects of an operation that was allegedly stealing work vans and pickup trucks in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union, Hudson, Morris, and Middlesex Counties. Detectives also identified Mr. Gary Herring, 42, of Irvington, Mr. Jameer Smith, 21, of Newark, and Mr. Timothy Pereira, 31, of Guttenberg as additional suspects in the operation.

 

Officials said through various investigative means, detectives discovered that the suspects were transporting the stolen vehicles to scrapyards in Jersey City and Newark and using a parking lot in North Bergen to store vehicles. The suspects would remove the catalytic converters and sell the parts for profit or illegally modify the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicles to commit additional crimes.

 

Police say on February 19, detectives from the Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit along with members of the State Police K-9 Unit and T.E.A.M.S. Unit, executed a search warrant at the residence of Milton and Williams on North Maple Avenue in East Orange. As a result of the search, detectives recovered a stolen vehicle, stolen tools and equipment, 31 vehicle titles, stolen license plates, and 16 motor vehicle VIN plates, which are affixed to every vehicle by the manufacturer. Milton and Williams were arrested without incident.

 

A short time later, detectives determined that Wilson and Smith were operating a BMW X5 in Union Township, Union County where they were located and arrested by the Union Township Police Department after attempting to flee from a motor vehicle stop. Herring was later located and arrested as he exited his residence on 21stStreet in Irvington, N.J.

 

During the week of February 22, detectives executed search warrants at a scrapyard in Jersey City, a parking lot in North Bergen, and Pereira’s residence in Guttenberg. As a result of the searches, detectives recovered more than 15 stolen vehicles, a stolen snowplow, and a car transporter trailer with an altered VIN. On February 25, Pereira turned himself in to detectives and was arrested without incident.

 

“Given the extreme financial hardship and related difficulties that so many of our residents have experienced over the past 12 months, it was critical that we act quickly to stop this criminal enterprise targeting individuals’ work vehicles and trucks,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “In this case, the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice acted swiftly on emerging crime trend intelligence and then worked collaboratively with agencies across our state to bring these criminals to justice.”

 

“Catalytic converters have become a high-value target of thieves due to the soaring prices of the precious metals that are needed for the device to function.  The victims of these crimes are not only left with costly repair bills, but may suffer further financial losses through lost work wages or car rental expenses,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “The outstanding efforts of the New Jersey State Police Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit and our partners led to the takedown of a prolific theft ring.”

 

“I commend the New Jersey State Police, the detectives and attorneys in the Division of Criminal Justice, and all of our law enforcement partners for shutting down this opportunistic theft ring,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our Specialized Crimes Bureau routinely works with the State Police and other agencies, including the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, to target criminals who steal from state residents and businesses.”

 

The defendants were charged as follows:

 

Police charged David Wilson with:

 

  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Fencing
  • Criminal mischief
  • Conspiracy
  • Eluding
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Aggravated assault
  • Possession of CDS
  • Obstruction

 

George Milton was charged with:

 

  • Conspiracy to operate a facility for the sale of stolen automobile parts
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Fencing
  • Criminal mischief
  • Conspiracy

 

Police charged Donald Williams with:

 

  • Conspiracy to operate a facility for the sale of stolen automobile parts
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Fencing
  • Criminal mischief
  • Conspiracy

 

Gary Herring was charged with:

 

  • Conspiracy to operate a facility for the sale of stolen automobile parts
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Fencing
  • Criminal mischief
  • Conspiracy
  • Possession of CDS
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

 

Police charged Jameer Smith with:

 

  • Resisting Arrest
  • Possession of CDS
  • Obstruction
  • Possession of Burglar’s Tools

 

Timothy Pereira was charged with:

           

  • Receiving stolen property
  • Possession of a motor vehicle with altered identification numbers

 

The case is being prosecuted by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.