Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Major Auto Theft Ring Exposed

Posted on: November 28, 2008 at 4:56 p.m.

Between movies such as Gone in Sixty Seconds and video games such as Grand Theft Auto, automobile and vehicle theft is almost seen as a romantic profession. However, law enforcement sees auto theft as a serious theft crime with serious consequences, and Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that defending auto theft crimes is a challenge.

Recently, the Los Angeles Police Department's specialized auto crimes unit has broken up a San Fernando Valley auto theft ring in which seven young men were stealing vehicles and possibly transporting them to Mexico. In addition to the auto thefts, the group of male friends ranging in age from 17 to 20 also allegedly committed home burglaries in the Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana and West Hills areas of the San Fernando Valley, authorities said, adding that some of the crimes extended into Ventura County.

The thieves returned to many of the victims' homes after stealing their vehicles and took items such as credit cards, jewelry, laptop computers and digital cameras.

A theft crime is a criminal act of taking another individual

Tagged as: california criminal laws


Karen on November 30, 2009 at 2:03 p.m. wrote:

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unknown on May 22, 2009 at 7:53 a.m. wrote:

I think that the kid were trying to make money to get drugs.

Tatiana Vardanyan on November 30, 2008 at 7:58 p.m. wrote:

Grand theft auto is now banned from the UK as well as Australia. It would be unreasonable to assume that we can completely censor such entertainment but I believe that video games such as Grand Theft Auto glorifies violence and further fosters violent behavior among young, growing adolescents. I am a Psychology major and here is my Psychological insight... I have read numerous studies correlating violence with violent video games. As opposed to passively watching violent TV programs, video games entail a greater degree of engagement, energy, and competition driven by passion. Violent video games may not directly cause violent behavior, but there is definitely a link worth investigating before we produce, manufacture, distribute, and promote such forms of entertainment. Perhaps, it could very well be that individuals who are prone to violent behavior or aggression may be more attracted to violent video games as opposed to the former argument about the video game fostering violent behavior. In any event, these forms of entertainment clearly cost our country too much of an investment and following the path similar to that of the UK and banning such video games would be wise.

Ericka Carlos on November 29, 2008 at 6:50 p.m. wrote:

It's surprising that these individuals are said to not be involved in gangs or drugs. Oftentimes, when crimes like this take place, they are commited with the intention of selling the cars for profit in other places (where the car may not be recognized as a reportedly stolen vehicle). Depending on what part of Mexico the cars were being transported to can also reveal more about the nature of the crime. Say, for instance, that these individuals transported the vehicles to Sinaloa, Mexico, where the Mexican drug cartel is most active; i would suppose there was some involvement with the like. It is well known by locals that individuals who drive fancy cars pretty much give themselves away as either criminals or tourists in this region of Mexico. One is automatically suspect if you drive a newer truck, or fixed up car in this area. Therefore, the type of vehicles being stolen are also of interest (sedan, suv)...It is possible that the cars were being sold to the Mexican drug cartel. If this was so, i am curious as to how cooperative the Mexican government would be in solving the case.

Nicole Forde on November 29, 2008 at 4:35 p.m. wrote:

I think we are forgetting about the major motivation to perform any theft: monetary profit. It is most likely a combination between societal and peer influences with a motive for financial gain. It is obvious that reoccurring grand theft auto does not serve a purpose for an individual driver. If the thief wanted to purchase a car to drive him or herself, they would probably stop at a much smaller number. But with today's economy and ever increasing employment rate, stealing cars offers a quick solution. Granted one must have the audacity to enter into a career crime, but once this commences you're looking at a simple equation that results in complete profit. The thieves surpass the entire fixed and marginal cost it takes to actually make a vehicle and simply sell the stolen ones as a whole vehicle or for parts. It's really not that much different then pirated media products except that grand theft auto falls into the felony category of crimes. The demand for new car purchases is currently almost non existent and personal car loans or those through a dealership are just not available. This eliminates a barrier of entry on the vehicle market. Both illegal producer (ie car thieves) and the consumer benefit indirectly. The thief gets pure profit for the sale of the car or its parts and the consumer gets it's desired product at a much more affordable price. Grand Theft Auto therefore does not only create a problem for the individual victim of a car theft, but also for the companies who sell cars legally. They just cannot compete with the prices of stolen vehicles.

Brittany Schoof Comm 174 on November 28, 2008 at 8:20 p.m. wrote:

I have been trying to figure out the motivation for such crimes. The police have said that these group of men were not involved in gangs or drugs, which are common motivations for these type of crimes. It seems that the most logical explanation is that these young men were highly influenced by the mass media. As mentioned, grand theft auto is being romanticized in films and video games, most notably the Grand Theft Auto series which has sold over 70 million copies. Video games have been getting flak for some time now,for supposedly creating violent behavior in young males, but perhaps there is even more going on here. A game in which you actually are the thief and steal cars, creates a culture in which stealing is cool, which could explain why these young men have resorted to stealing from over 50 victims. The magnitude of the crime suggests that it is not out of necessity, but rather out of desire for a certain lifestyle and image, which could be propagated by video games such as these. The fact the these thieves were aged 17-20 supports this idea that these impressionable men were just playing into a romanticized role. It would be interesting to investigate if these men played these video games, which could be a possible defense.

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