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Million-Dollar New Ford F-150 Theft Ring Sold Stolen Trucks to Innocent Buyers

Blank vehicle titles were stolen from Georgia in 2007, which helped the thieves legally title the trucks.

byNico DeMattia|
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Customers, car dealerships, and title companies in Arizona are all fighting a similar fight, after 14 Ford F-150s were stolen from holding lots in Detroit and sold with fraudulent paperwork. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford was slow to report the trucks as stolen, which is allegedly what allowed the thieves to legally get them into circulation and it's hurting everyone involved in the buying process.

Police reports suggest that the 2023 F-150s, which were kept in various holding lots throughout metro Detroit, were left unlocked, with their keys inside, and without any surveillance cameras. The trucks were then driven to Arizona, where they were legally titled and registered, thanks to a stack of blank motor vehicle titles stolen in Georgia in 2007. Thieves used the blank titles to create perfectly legal looking paperwork for the stolen trucks, had them titled at different title companies, and then sold them to dealerships.

How were they able to legally title stolen trucks, even with official blank documents? Wouldn't the VINs come up stolen? Ford didn't report the stolen trucks right away—it allegedly took weeks, sometimes months before the they were reported to authorities—so they were already titled, sold, and in the hands of unsuspecting owners before police were made aware. However, once Ford alerted police, they were able to track the VINs to dealerships and customers. Unfortunately, that's where problems began for dealerships and customers.

Cascio Motors in Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the dealers that was raided by police on December 23, 2022, who were looking for four stolen trucks. According to co-owner Addison Brown, Cascio motors paid an average of $65,000 for each truck, completely unaware they were stolen. Those trucks were then seized and impounded, leaving Brown and Cascio Motors to foot the bill.  

"I'm out $300,000 and my trucks have been impounded. When you read through the police reports, you can see that this case was worked backwards. Ford did not initially report trucks stolen. And when people ask questions, Ford is nonresponsive," she told Freep.

However, it isn't only the police that are going after dealerships and title agencies for these stolen trucks. One dealership in Arizona is suing Prompt Titles & Registrations in Phoenix, claiming that it bought a stolen truck based on a false title. However, the truck didn't come up stolen when the title agency entered its VIN into the system, as Ford hadn't reported it as stolen yet. Since then, Michael Lorette, owner of Prompt Titles, has told his staff not to give out titles for any 2022-2023 Ford F-150s.

It's unclear how thieves were able to drive these trucks nearly 2,000 miles, get them titled, and sell them before they were reported stolen. While Freep reports that the trucks were left unsecured and unattended, Ford claims otherwise.

Ford representative Ian Thibodeau told The Drive: "The assertion being related by the Free Press makes no sense: that Ford is somehow accountable when criminals sell stolen goods, evidently with fraudulent titles, to car dealers and customers. Product theft is a sad reality for all manufacturers, including every carmaker, and retailers. When we become aware of robberies, we promptly report the losses to law enforcement agencies. In fact, along with unsuspecting people who purchase these vehicles, Ford and other companies are victims here."

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