Boro auto theft ring shut down by police

Police arrested Clayton Delgado, the alleged ringleader of a boroughwide auto-theft ring at his home in Ridgewood. Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

Six people who allegedly ran an auto-theft ring in Queens over the past year could face up to 25 years in prison, the Queens district attorney said.

Four of the defendants were arraigned Feb. 9 and held on bail of up to $300,000, according to the DA’s office.

The group allegedly stole 17 cars over the past 12 months, including a BMW and an Audi, said the DA.

“A 16-month investigation dubbed ‘Tag Team’ … has dismantled an auto-theft ring that stole most of its inventory off of the streets of Queens,” DA Richard Brown said in a statement. “There have been historic drops in auto theft throughout Queens County and we maintain zero tolerance for auto thieves.”

These alleged thieves are accused of stealing the vehicles, then stamping new vehicle identification numbers on them before either selling them with fake titles, giving them to friends and family or keeping the cars for themselves, said the DA.

In one case, the group allegedly stole a $50,000 1987 Buick Grand National GNX from a man three hours after he bought it and before he wrote his name on the title, said the DA.

“The suspects gave ‘All in the Family’ a new connotation in Queens by relying on family and friends to steal cars,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “But the comparison ends there.”

The alleged ringleader was Clayton Delgado, of 18-05 Norman St., in Ridgewood, said the DA.

When police raided his apartment, they allegedly found a cache of vehicle identification number plates, numerous keys, a key-making kit and vehicle titles. Officers also allegedly found evidence that suggested Delgado was bleaching $1 bills and printing $100 bills with them.

Auto thefts in Queens are down from historic highs during the 1990s, according to Brown.

“When I first took office, there were some 52,000 cars stolen in Queens County. Last year, we were at just a little more than 3,400 cars stolen — a decrease of more than 90 percent,” he said.

Kelly also noted the extreme decrease in auto theft over the past two decades.

“Persistence by police and prosecutors has helped to drive down auto theft from a high of over 140 cars a day in the 1990s to fewer than 10 a day last year,” he said.

Operation Tag Team was completed using wiretaps, surveillance and undercover detective work, the DA said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-26-4566.

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