FBI agents arrested the ringleader of a Newark-based, multi-state ring whose members attached GPS devices to vehicles to determine where and when it was easiest to steal them, authorities said.
Members of the ring run by Warren Guerrier, 43, of Newark “scouted out vehicles at apartment complexes, hotels, or shopping centers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Wednesday.
They then photographed desired vehicles – mostly older Honda or Acura models -- and attached GPS trackers so they map out where the owners went with them, he said.
Guerrier and his conspirators then listed the targeted vehicles for sale on Craigslist, OfferUp and other online marketplaces, Carpenito said.
Crew members scheduled meeting times and places with buyers, then “returned to the target vehicles with unlawfully obtained valet keys” and stole them, the U.S. attorney said.
“At Guerrier’s direction, one of the conspirators personally met the purchasers, while posing as the original owner of the vehicle, and provided the purchasers the unlawfully obtained valet key, at least one fraudulent motor vehicle registration document and the stolen vehicle in exchange for cash,” he said.
Ring members stole more than 30 vehicles and collected $217,650 from unwitting buyers over the course of the scheme, Carpenito said.
They chose older model vehicles made by Honda or Acura “because valet keys for such vehicles were easier to access,” he said.
Federal authorities charged Guerrier with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He was in federal custody Wednesday pending a teleconferenced first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest.
Handling the case for the government is Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall Randolph of Carpenito’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
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