28 arrested in connection with auto theft investigation

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Metro police announced Monday that an investigation into a major auto theft ring resulted in 28 arrests.

Metro Captain Shane Womack discusses car theft operation.

During a news conference, Metro Captain Shane Womack said the investigation into the operation, which was allegedly switching VIN numbers, began at the end of 2020.

Police said it was a very complex operation where suspects manufactured fake VIN plates and door stickers that appeared to be factory-issued.

A VIN number is unique to each vehicle. Switching the number can hide the true identity of a stolen car making it easier to sell.

“Once this investigation started it resulted in many, many arrests as well as search warrants and most of this came to a pinnacle June 18,” Womack said.

He said the investigation resulted in:

  • 18 felony arrests (there were an additional 10 felony arrests made out of state)
  • 152 total felony charges
  • 19 stolen (recovered) vehicles (16 were vin switched)
  • The stolen vehicles were worth $600,000
  • 7 firearms, including assault rifles
  • Thousands of rounds of ammunition
  • 3 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine
  • 2,500 fentanyl pills
  • 6 1/2 pounds of marijuana concentrate
  • 20 grams of heroin
  • $15,000 cash
  • Fake credit cards, checks and IDs
  • Machinery related to chop shop and vin switching operation
  • Thousands of dollars in U.S. counterfeit currency
Evidence seized during bust of allege car theft ring. (Photo credit: LVMPD)

Of the 28 people arrested, 10 were arrested out of state. Captain Womack said Metro’s VIPER Auto Theft Task Force coordinated with task force partners in Arizona and California to take people into custody.

Police release photos of 18 people arrested in Clark County in connection with auto theft ring. (Photo credit: LVMPD)

“These are crimes that occured in Clark County, vehicles that were stolen in Clark County and they fled to other states,” Womack said.

The suspects face a number of charges including operating a chop shop, possession of a stolen vehicle, trafficking multiple controlled substances, prohibited persons in possession of firearms and forgery-related crimes.

Womack said the VIPER Task Force comprises of Metro, NHP, Nevada Department of Public Safety and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The task force focuses on auto theft for profit and has regional partners.

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