Sheriff: Theft ring stole vehicles from dealerships, resold them on social media

The Harris County Sheriff's Office Auto Theft Unit announces major arrests in a sophisticated theft ring.

The arrests were part of two-year investigation known as "Operation Slingshot."

Investigators said the ring was responsible for stealing vehicles from dozens of dealerships and then reselling them on social media and Craigslist.

In total, 25 dealers and 27 buyers were victimized by the suspects.

The loss in retail value to dealers was $787,294 and buyers of the vehicles lost $229,000.

HCSO said this type of crime was unique and difficult to track, because the person selling the car online was not the same person that stole the car.

Nine suspects were linked to the theft ring.

The charges filed against the suspects include felony organized crime, theft, money laundering and making false statements.

On August 4, arrest warrants were executed and eight of the nine suspects were arrested.

One man is still wanted for his role in the auto theft ring.

Investigators carried out undercover stings in order to identify the individuals involved.

All of the vehicles were GM models.
HCSO said recent immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries were targeted as buyers of the stolen vehicles because the suspects believed they would be less likely to report a crime.

Investigators warn to never make major purchases directly from social media. If you are going to purchase a vehicle via social media, do it at the courthouse or tax office with the seller to ensure that the transaction is legitimate.

Follow Marla Carter on Twitter for live updates.

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