A joint effort by law enforcement has brought down an auto theft ring. The Illinois secretary of state, Cook County state’s attorney and the Illinois State Police have arrested 21 people in connection to the theft of more than 200 vehicles worth $4 million. The ring operated with offenders stealing leased returned vehicles from dealerships, retagging them with fake vehicle identification numbers, obtaining fake out-of-state titles, then applying for Illinois titles.
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The vehicles were then sold on the street. In many cases, a $50,000 vehicle would be sold for $10,000 in cash. An investigation was launched in April 2011 after the secretary of state’s Vehicle Services Department discovered several vehicle titles that didn’t appear valid. The joint investigation recovered 120 vehicles worth $2.3 million. The secretary of state’s office says the auto theft ring started with a family and eventually included neighbors and acquaintances. The ring primarily operated in Chicago and the South Suburbs.