Authorities hunt down dozens accused in car theft ring


ATLANTA - Atlanta police, along with state and federal agents, spent Monday morning tracking down dozens of people accused of stealing older model cars and selling them for scrap metal.

Nearly 100 people were indicted earlier this month on accusations they forged car titles to sell scrap metal. In the last 48 hours, 46 suspects were arrested in a raid across the state.

“What we’re here for today is for ordinary, average tax-paying citizens that got taken advantage of by sorry, no-good people that want something for nothing,” U.S. Marshal Keith Booker said in a news conference Tuesday.

Booker and other law enforcement officials sounded off against car thieves as they discussed the arrests made in Operation Heavy Metal. Channel 2’s Ryan Young was with the multi-jurisdictional auto theft task force as they rounded up suspects in Atlanta. Authorities hoped to surprise suspects in the pre-dawn hours before they woke up.

A Channel 2 investigation first reported the massive car theft ring two years ago. Investigators got a list of every vehicle crushed at three south Fulton County recycling centers and found that nearly 270 cars had been reported stolen.

“We will reverse these numbers and the wrong that this theft caused,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. “Thieves are stealing these cars from the homes of unsuspecting victims, stealing them from their garages, their driveways and from their places of business.”

Police said thieves used tow trucks to pick up unattended cars. The stolen cars were crushed and sold for between $500 and $800 each on average. According to Georgia law, if a car is more than 12 years old, you don't have to show the title to have it crushed.

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