Auto Theft Ring Leads From Michigan Ford Factory To Phoenix Dealership Showroom
Phoenix police are investigating what they believe to be an auto theft ring that included brand new Ford pickup trucks and SUVs stolen from a Michigan factory lot, showing up for sale in car dealer showrooms in the Valley.
The scheme is believed to have found a weakness in the government computer system used to check if titles are clean or stolen from out of state.
According to the police investigation, the vehicles were allegedly stolen from vehicle holding lots outside factories in Michigan last year. It is believed that at least 24 vehicles were driven to Arizona. During the vehicle transport, the cars VIN numbers were fraudulently added to blank Georgia auto titles. Those titles were the same 12,000 titles that were stolen back in 2007. Since then, some of those vehicles assigned with the stolen title VIN numbers have been tracked down by police in the Detroit metro area before the vehicles left the state of Michigan.
Those vehicles that made it to Arizona were registered and given clean Arizona titles, then turned around and sold to used car dealerships. Over the period of approximately 60 days, Scottsdale’s Cascio Motors bought four Ford F150s from individuals that provided clear title, valid driver’s licenses, and clean Carfax reports. The dealership spent over $260,000 on vehicles they believed had legitimate clean Arizona titles.
An official with the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division believe that a large part of the problem in this case stems from Ford not reporting the vehicles as stolen for several weeks or in some cases months. The vehicles were not noticed to be missing or stolen until they were retitled here in Arizona. Had the vehicles VIN numbers been reported stolen sooner, the state system would have flagged the trucks and they would not have been titled.
An active investigation is still underway with Phoenix police. A lawsuit has been filed by Premier Title and Registration, which were involved in titling some of the stolen vehicles. The lawsuit filed named a man as the leader of the criminal enterprise, Donald Eugene Reed III. At present time, no arrests have been made in the case.
Reed does have a criminal record, which includes title fraud, identity theft, and filing fraudulent tax returns.
This criminal activity has placed a huge burden on the car buyers and also the dealers who were caught up the fraudulent scam. They are all out their money and cars. Police confiscated the stolen Fords, and Cascio Motors’ business is struggling to survive.
Due to the business selling “stolen cars”, Cascio Motors’ are now considered uninsurable and are no longer approved to participate at auto auctions. Their future is unknown after being one of the victims involved in this criminal enterprise.