Federal customs officers reportedly have foiled a motorcycle theft ring that stole bikes from Maryland and Virginia and smuggled them overseas.
Agents at the Port of Baltimore were alerted by Fairfax County, Va., police investigating an auto theft ring who said a shipping container bound for Bolivia might contain stolen motorcycles, according to a story in the Washington Examiner. The agents used a database to find a container still in the seaport that matched the description offered by the police in Virginia.
Federal agents pulled the container from the ship, opened it and found four salvage cars or sport utility vehicles. Salvage vehicles are vehicles usually purchased at auction for their parts value, says Scott McCabe, a reporter for the newspaper (www.washingtonexaminer.com ).
Inside the salvage cars were boxes containing disassembled motorcycles — a 2009 Harley-Davidson Night Train and a 2007 Kawasaki ZX660J.
“This ring stole motorcycles, they’d take them apart. They’d leave the frame and motor part basically intact, but take off the tires and handlebars and but them in a box, wrap them in blankets and hide them in the salvage vehicles,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steve Sapp told McCabe.
The federal agents went back to the database of shipping information to see whether there were similar manifests. “The officers were really smart,” said Sapp. “They found more stolen motorcycles.”
But those containers were already out to sea and heading to Bolivia, Sapp said.
Customs officials ordered three containers to be redelivered to the Baltimore seaport. The last one arrived last Monday. Inside each container were two more motorcycles, disassembled and concealed inside the salvage vehicles.
Fairfax County police said they have arrested three members of the motorcycle ring.
Baltimore is one of the nation’s busiest seaports for the import and export of new and used cars, trucks, boats, recreational vehicles and farm equipment, customs officials said.