A gang of 33 people were charged on Thursday with the theft of more than 300 motorcycles worth about $500,000, according to the New York Post. Members would break up into "steal teams" in stolen minivans -- which had their backseats removed for more cargo room -- and case upscale neighborhood in New York City looking for expensive sport bikes like Ducatis and Hondas.
The thefts amounted to half of the bikes stolen in New York City in the past year, officials said. Only 63 motorcycles were recovered.
"The streets served as outdoor showrooms where crews would go shopping," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Once a suitable bike was spotted, the crew would park beside it, open the van door, lift the bike inside and drive away. If spotted, the crooks would divert police attention from the van by having escort vehicles drive erratically. One of the baddies’ grandmothers was a lookout.
"In most instances, this took no more than 30 seconds," Kelly said.
Gun Running & Motorcycle Smuggling
Authorities were tipped off to the ring following the investigation of a stolen Yamaha from the Tribeca section of lower Manhattan. Dealers on the black market would pay about $2,000 for each stolen bike. The bikes would then be taken apart, wrapped in plastic and labeled "Household goods" before being shipped for resale in Caribbean and African countries.
“Some stolen motorcycles were sold intact, some were dismantled and sold in Guyana and Trinidad and other Caribbean countries and Senegal in Africa,” Kelly said.
The bike crooks expanded into guns sales. It's charged that an undercover detective bought 15 weapons from the ring, including three semiautomatic assault rifles. Most of the weapons were from Southern states, authorities said.
"These criminals have a magic act, they would make motorcycles disappear and guns appear on the streets of our city," Kelly said.