Queens auto theft, scrap metal scheme busted
A trio was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing more than two-dozen cars in Queens and selling the metal as scrap.
Jose Montenegro, 27, Jennifer Avila, 26 of Brooklyn and Pedro Lopez, 20, of Woodhaven, were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on several charges, including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and falsifying business records.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that for four months the suspects were reaping as much as $700 per vehicle by exploiting a legal loophole.
"These defendants are accused of taking advantage of a quirk in the law in which individuals can dispose of vehicles that are eight years or older without proof of title," he said in a statement.
The defendants dropped off 32 stolen cars, most of which were Ford Econoline vans, to a Queens junk yard between April and August.
They allegedly presented the dismantler with a state DMV form that is used to transfer a vehicle at least eight years old and worth less than $1,250 and claimed they were the owner.
If convicted on their charges, the suspects face up to four years in prison, the DA said.