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Photo via Public Domain
Photo via Public Domain

A Whitestone man faces up to four years in prison for allegedly clipping an expensive part from 15 cars in neighborhoods including Flushing, Astoria and College Point, prosecutors announced.

Michael Cipriati, 33, of 11th Avenue faces charges including criminal mischief and auto stripping after being linked to thefts in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside Gardens, Jackson Heights, Flushing, College Point and Little Neck, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. Cipriati was arraigned in criminal court on Dec. 7.

According to the charges, the Whitestone resident removed catalytic converters from 15 parked vehicles throughout the borough between Oct. 20 and Dec. 6. Make and models of the targeted cars included a Ford Econoline van, Chevy Cavalier, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Prius.

In each instance, prosecutors said, Cipriati was either observed removing the car part or cellphone records connected him to the area at the time the expensive part was stolen. In at least 11 of the occasions, the defendant would then sell the car part the same day it was stolen to Alpha Recycling in the Bronx.

Additionally, at the time of the arrest, Cipriati was discovered driving a Mercedes Benz while his license was suspended, prosecutors said. He was also allegedly in possession of two Oxycodon pills.

Cipriati is charged with third-degree criminal mischief, fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree auto stripping, fourth- and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Bail was set at $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash. If convicted, the defendant faces up to four years in prison.

Brown said thieves are “growing more brazen with their schemes” due to the continuing rise in the price of scrap metal.

“For years now, my office has taken great strides to reduce auto and auto-related thefts in Queens County,” Brown said. “Since 1991, my first year as district attorney, the rate of vehicle thefts in Queens has plunged more than 90 percent. This accomplishment can be attributed in part to driving home this message: if you steal autos and auto parts in Queens County, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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