Imagine finding out your car has been stolen and sold for scrap. That’s the case for 12 car owners in New York City.
According to New York Daily News21-year-old Franklin Payne has been arrested for allegedly stealing Hondas, Nissans, Volkswagens, Kias and Fords as part of his DIY towing scheme.
Mr Payne is accused of turning his Chevrolet Silverado into a tow truck and stealing the vehicle from East New York – where he lives – and selling it for scrap metal.
Mr. Payne was arrested by the NYPD earlier this week after allegedly completing his crimes in May 2023.
New York Daily News reported nine vehicles stolen from Brooklyn, including his East New York neighborhood, and three from Queens.
According to the news outlet, the NYPD said vehicles that are more than eight years old do not require a title when sold for parts.
The alleged thief was able to turn the car into extra cash by declaring on a form with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the vehicle belonged to him. This misstep, however, led to his arrest.
As a result of the increase in stolen vehicles, NYPD auto crime detectives regularly run stolen car VIN numbers through a national database to see if they have been revoked.
New York Daily News reported that NYPD detectives found a series of stolen vehicles all smashed up at the same Nassau County junkyard on Long Island.
Upon further investigation, detectives were able to link Mr. Payne and his DIY Chevrolet Silverado tow truck.
Mr. Payne was eventually caught, thanks to his signature on DMV documents confirming he was the rightful owner of the vehicle he stole and then sent to the junkyard.
“He signed a document confirming that he was the owner [cars] he sent,” said NYPD Sergeant Michael Alfano, who New York Daily News report.
“That’s how we got the name.
“The fact that all the cars he stole were from one precinct was a real red flag for us.”
follow New York Daily News, Mr Payne was charged with 12 counts of car theft, criminal possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
New York Daily News reports in the Big Apple, grand theft auto cases have increased by 18 percent so far this year. The NYPD has investigated 7624 car thefts this year, up from 6455 year over year.
“It’s a very profitable business,” Sgt. Alfano told New York Daily News.
“You can make a lot more money on an older, heavier car than a newer car. That’s why we review this line of investigation when a car goes missing.”
The TikTok trend is to blame for an increase in stolen Hyundai or Kia vehicles across the US, with many thieves posting their crimes online.
New York Daily News reports that criminals also search online for computer code to create electronic keys to cars, which they then steal without setting off any alarms.