$8-Million, 400-Car Theft Ring ‘Like Grand Theft Auto’ Busted in Michigan

Six have been arrested for alleged roles in stealing new cars to sell on the black market.

byBeverly Braga|
Chrysler News photo
Troy Police, ABC 7 (YouTube)
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Murder, attempted murder, armed robberies, carjackings, car chases, countersurveillance… sounds like a Netflix crime thriller straight outta Compton. Would you believe an $8-million grand theft auto ring was caught straight outta Oakland instead? As in Oakland County, Michigan, the home of Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and other Stellantis subsidiaries. 

The alleged auto theft ring (because innocent until proven guilty) operated in more than 40 jurisdictions across Southeast Michigan, including Macomb, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties, but also reached farther west into Eaton and Kent counties. For non-Michiganders, Wayne County is home to Ford (Dearborn) and General Motors (Detroit).

As if that weren't excessive enough, the Department of the Michigan Attorney General along with 200-plus law enforcement officers from more than a dozen state, federal, and local agencies *catches breath* were involved in arresting a bunch of 20-year-olds. Six arrests were made from the eight arrest warrants executed. Five of the six men are in their early- to mid-20s, with the sixth being just 18 years old. 

The investigation began last August and was initiated by the Troy Police Department. Once the breadth of the criminal organization was realized, a division called the FORCE Team was brought into the fold in early 2024. The Michigan Attorney General's office created the FORCE Team in January 2023 as a collaboration between the department's Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Unit and the Michigan State Police (MSP). Throughout the investigation, municipal police departments and specialized auto theft units also aided in the efforts. 

According to the AG's office, more than 400 vehicles were stolen and sold at Fisker-esque fire sale prices on the black market to anyone wanting an unregistered vehicle. The stolen cars have been linked to the aforementioned alleged murder and mayhem. The auto theft ring targeted new vehicles located in OEM storage lots, car dealerships, parking facilities, and personal residences. The suspects allegedly shot at officers, used evasive tactics, and likely utilized countersurveillance measures in order to steal the vehicles quickly. 

The joy ride came to an end on May 15. The six defendants in custody, all from Southeast Michigan, have been charged with Conducting a Criminal Enterprises and Use of a Computer to Commit a Crime. Both charges are 20-year felonies. The AG and MSP Fugitive Team continue the location efforts of the two remaining suspects. No date has been set for future proceedings. This investigation is ongoing, with more arrests possible. 

WXYZ, Detroit's ABC 7 station, has some visuals from the a media address by the Troy, Michigan police department which you can see here.

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