Five charged in Marion County auto theft sting
The Marion County prosecutor has announced charges after an undercover auto theft investigation. Four suspects have been arrested for separate thefts, and police are still looking for a fifth suspect.
A car is stolen every 40 seconds in the United States, and prosecutors say during their undercover investigation the suspects would brag about their car-stealing skills.
David Johnson has his 2006 Chevy Impala back after someone made off with it earlier this month. He says whoever stole it also wrecked it.
His ride is more than just his heart, his license plate shows other drivers he's earned a Purple Heart.
"I got the Purple Heart in Vietnam. I got the special plate because I am kind of proud of that," he said.
Johnson's is one of many car theft situations prosecutors are trying to put the brakes on. After a six month investigation, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced multiple charges against different organized car thieves.
At Wednesday's news conference, prosecutors displayed an operation board showing how undercover officers would buy the stolen cars off of the suspects. Police have arrested four suspects, but one man still remains at large.
According to court documents, the vehicles were stolen from various central Indiana locations, including a car jacking on West 11th Street, a residential driveway in Greenwood, an auto dealership in Plainfield, and a car rental agency in Indianapolis. The total value of the seven vehicles is estimated at more than $104,000.
"(The thieves) would steal vehicles all night long and sleep during the day and stated that he could have a car every single day for sale to the undercover agents," Curry said.
Jeremy Henderson and Jamison Scott are charged with Corrupt Business Influence (C Felony), four counts of Money Laundering (D Felony), and four counts of Auto Theft (D Felony). Terrel Kay is charged with Auto Theft (D Felony). Dominique Miller is charged with Forgery (C Felony) and Auto Theft (D Felony).
Arron Smith is charged with Altering or Removing an Original or Special Vehicle Identification Number (C Felony), Possession of a Vehicle with an Altered Vehicle Identification Number (D Felony), Sale of Vehicle with Altered Vehicle Identification Number (D Felony), and Auto Theft (D Felony).
Henderson, Kay, Miller and Smith are in custody.
Investigators are still looking for 26-year-old Jamison Scott. He is wanted for four counts of auto theft and money laundering. Scott is a 26-year-old black male, 6" 2' and approximately 205 lbs. Information leading to Scott can be reported to Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.
The investigation started at the end of 2012 with several law enforcement agencies participating. The cars were stolen from driveways, in carjackings and in some cases even from rental car companies - and then sold dirt cheap.
"These vehicles were alleged to be stolen and resold and literally for almost pennies on the dollar. As set forth in the probable cause, the stolen cars would be sold from anywhere from a few hundred dollars to, say, $1,200, $1,500 for cars that had retail value often times in excess of $20,000," said Curry.
The undercover investigation is ongoing and since prosecutors believe there could easily be other organized car thieves out there, they want people to protect their property by not leaving your car running, keys in the ignition and by locking your car doors at all times.
"We encourage the public to secure your items in your vehicle and to remove your keys from the ignition," said IMPD Deputy Chief Bill Lorah.