ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – They traveled out of state to steal cars, high-end cars, then brought them back to St. Louis to retitle and sell.

That’s the story federal officials are telling about a major auto theft ring and the indictment of 21 suspects accused of stealing over 100 cars.

“These gentlemen approached the automobile industry much like a miner approaches a gold field,” U.S. Attorney Rich Callahan said.

The criminal organization used several different schemes to steal cars, including bank fraud, straw purchases, and old-fashioned thefts off the street.

“The thefts were from other states but generally the cars were brought back to the operation here,” Callahan explained.

Sixteen suspects have been arrested thus far out of 21 sought. Callahan says the indictment covers over a hundred stolen cars with losses of two-to-three million dollars.

“This is the largest car theft ring that we’ve had here in eastern Missouri in memory,” Callahan said. He added that the men blended in around St. Louis.

“They had storefront-type businesses that really were not legitimate,” he said. “They certainly weren’t the type of individuals you were going to meet at church on Sunday.”


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