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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    CA: New Law Geared at Auto Theft Rings

    I searched and did not see this posted. ... f7b38.html

    Authorities gear up to use new auto-theft law

    08:59 PM PST on Saturday, December 29, 2007

    The Press-Enterprise

    Beginning Tuesday, a new law prompted by a San Bernardino County prosecutor will allow
    authorities to seize the profits of car-theft rings.

    The law, resulting from a sophisticated Inland smuggling operation run by Mexican organized crime,
    plugs a gap in the 1982 California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act. The act did not include a
    provision targeting car-theft rings.

    "We've got guys stealing millions in cars and getting a slap on the wrist," said Margaret Bevan, a San Bernardino County
    deputy district attorney. "It's big business."

    Bevan, recognized statewide as an auto-theft prosecution expert, did much of the legwork for the bill
    that Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, ushered through the state Legislature. Gov. Schwarzenegger
    signed it in July.

    Bevan said a nine-defendant San Bernardino County case she has been prosecuting for years helped
    bring the need for the law to the forefront.

    That case involves 17 high-end, late-model cars stolen in Southern California in 2004 and 2005.

    The stolen cars were taken to Mexico, where they were fitted with fake documents and vehicle identification
    numbers before being brought back to Southern California and sold to unsuspecting buyers.

    The offenses associated with the case occurred in Mexico and the California counties of San Bernardino,
    Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego, according to a court document.

    Statewide, at least 700 stolen cars have been linked to schemes similar to the one in San Bernardino County,
    California Highway Patrol investigator David Yokley said earlier this year.

    In the San Bernardino County case, the unsuspecting buyers, who had committed no crimes, suffered
    losses that totaled more than $1 million.

    Records show that several of the victims were awarded restitution. They are unlikely to collect, and the new
    law won't help them since their case was in progress before it took effect, Bevan said.

    "There's a lot of money, unfortunately, that people are going to have to eat," Bevan said.

    Yokley said earlier this year that car buyers can protect themselves by purchasing expensive cars through
    a dealer rather than from private sellers. Those who buy from a dealer have some legal recourse, and
    the hope of getting their money back.

    Before the new law, a judge could award restitution only after a case had completed its journey through the courts,
    Bevan said. By then, the defendants could have cashed out and fled the country, she said.

    "Now we have an avenue to seize assets while a case is still pending," Bevan said. "This helps."

    At least one defendant in the San Bernardino County case, Jose Manuel Ortiz, 36, is described as
    "a Mexican national who has extensive ties to Mexico and Mexican organized crime lords,"
    a court record states.

    Superior Court records show that Ortiz accepted an agreement in June, pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy
    and buying or receiving stolen property. He was sentenced to three years probation after spending nearly
    two years in jail, records show.

    Only one defendant -- one of two U.S. citizens in the case -- still is fighting charges. The others have
    accepted plea agreements or fled to Mexico, according to Bevan and court records.

    In a February memo supporting the new law, Bevan said repeat auto-theft offenders, if caught, are
    willing to serve the minimal jail time they may face in exchange for making tens of thousands of dollars.

    First-time auto thieves with no record usually get just six months in jail, Bevan said. A second conviction
    for felony grand theft auto could result in a sentence of at least two years under state law.

    Low-level players in the schemes, often illegal immigrants, sell cars at a premium and generally are
    paid pennies in return, Bevan said.

    "That $40,000 isn't going back to the person who drove it across the border," Bevan said. "They're mules.
    The ones getting the money are organized crime."

    Officials with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a clearing house for insurance companies, call the new
    law a strong deterrent for auto-theft rings.

    "Vehicle theft rings are operating at maximum efficiency because the penalties are extremely weak,"
    according to a bureau memo written in April. "Vehicle theft is the nation's No. 1 crime, costing an
    estimated $8.2 billion each year."

    The author of that memo, Senior Vice President Judith Fitzgerald, said earlier this month that California
    is consistently among the states with the highest auto-theft rates.

    "We have to close loopholes that allow criminal conspiracies to flourish," she said. "It's a tool in the toolbox
    to help law enforcement and the public."

    Auto theft impacts comprehensive insurance coverage, which is typically about 5 percent of a total
    premium, Fitzgerald said.

    Fitzgerald said it's unlikely the new law will lower premiums, but it could act as a barrier to future increases.

    Reach John F. Berry at 909-806-3058 or

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    South Western Ohio
    Support Your Local Law Enforcement

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  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Couer D Alene Id.
    Well WHAT the hell did they expect seeing as how La County is a haven for Illegals and With Arnie backing them foR WHAT EVER REASON.. Maybe they can get the money and help get some hosptials back up and running and help deport more illegals.. oh i forget Calif is their country and we are the Gringos that stole it from Messico,

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