Friday, April 6, 2012

Stolen Luxury Vehicles Seized at LA/Long Beach Port Complex

Twenty stolen luxury vehicles valued at about $1.5 million were found and seized by US Customs and Border Protection at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, officials said April 3.

The vehicles, which included a Ferrari 453 Italia and Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus brand vehicles were in containers marked as containing used fitness equipment, that were bound for Hong Kong and Vietnam.

According to Customs official Carlos Mantel, CBP officials were tipped off in February by a dealership that rented the Ferrari to someone who’s ID turned out to be fake. This resulted in an anti-theft device being activated on the vehicle, and the car being found at an unidentified terminal at the seaport complex.

A subsequent investigation turned up eight cargo containers filled with the remaining vehicles, which included cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, which were manufactured from 2009 to 2012, Martel said. Four of the vehicles reached Vietnam, but authorities managed to seize them for CBP.

The thieves are believed to have operated by renting or buying luxury cars under false identities, thereby defrauding rental agencies, banks and insurance companies. No arrests have been made yet in the case, but the investigation is still ongoing.

The vehicles will be turned over to the California Highway Patrol, which will then give them back to the companies that reported them missing, according to Customs.