A Pierce County task force has arrested five people in connection with an auto theft ring and recovered several vehicles worth $200,000, Lakewood police announced today.
Members of the Auto Crime Enforcement Task Force, hosted by Lakewood police, made the bust after arranging an undercover purchase of a stolen newer model car at the Tacoma Mall.
Authorities said the theft ring’s leader was on parole when he was arrested.
The suspects stole newer model vehicles from car dealers along Interstate 5 from Vancouver to Burlington. They then switched the vehicle identification numbers with cars for sale in Canada, police Lt. Chris Lawler said.
Police said they also forged Department of Licensing paperwork so they could sell the stolen vehicles through online sites like Craig’s List.
The task force includes detectives from Lakewood, Puyallyp and Tacoma police departments, as well as Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.