A notorious ring of high-tech car thieves has been dismantled by the New York Police Department (NYPD) busting 10 suspects accused of using bootleg computer codes to jack a car and reproprogram the owner’s assigned electronic keys. State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday the take-down of the carjacking group that has led to hundreds of reported car thefts throughout the boroughs of New York between the months of April and October 2020.

According to the New York Daily News, the suspects have been charged with a 303-count indictment that stemmed from the group’s dauntless pursuits of preying on vulnerable members of the community. Police have so far recovered 115 stolen vehicles, which were directly linked to the crime syndicate based in the Bronx.

The group’s activities notably increased at a time when people were forced indoors due to the current health crisis leaving their cars parked outside for days and accessible for car thieves to scope them out. 

The old hot-wiring and window-smashing car jackers have leveled-up their smarts with a system that does not even set off any alarms. Once these cars have been remotely reprogrammed, the vehicle would no longer recognize its owners car keys and quite easily lets the thieves drive off without as much of a squeak. It also electronically rolls back the digital odometer display through the car’s ECU system. 

The suspects arrested, each play an important role in their heists. Norberto Pena Brito, Jose Lebron Pimentel, Edwin Hidalgo Estevez, Dariberto Fernandez Perez, and Hector Rivera were tasked with finding, altering and stealing vehicles as well as reselling them. 

Another syndicate member was Jesus Cabral, whose responsibility was to replace windshields and change the VINs on the stolen cars was also among those who got busted. Two more suspects, namely Willy Abreu and Abdul Khan are said to be “high-volume customers” who purchase the stolen cars to be resold in the Dominican Republic and the US.

A key player in the group, Leticia Saldivar, is the person in-charge of filing fake documents with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. It is through her that these stolen cars are provided with clean registrations and titles being that Saldivar also runs and owns Carmela’s Multiservice and Auto Tag in Philadelphia.

While other reported vehicles still remain missing or have been declared written off by insurance companies, authorities raise growing concern over the gang’s system that allows them to override anti-theft countermeasures installed by auto-companies.

The crimes linked to the syndicate and the impressive techniques used in theft executions have spelled looming consequences for auto companies and car insurance companies worldwide. 

key-4438448_960_720 Representation Image Security Programmed Car Keys Skica911/ Pixabay