Car theft ring accused of stealing $787,000 in luxury vehicles

Authorities in New Jersey say they have made two more arrests connected to a car theft ring that has stolen 22 vehicles worth over $787,000 including more than a dozen high-end Mercedes, BMWs, Land Rovers, and Audis.

The new indictment charges Brian Peppers, 30, of Newark, and Shareiff N. Copeland, 26, of East Orange, with stealing 10 vehicles and approximately $52,000 in cash from a car dealership in Irvington in June 2021.

Six men are now indicted in connection with the case.

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"This investigation illustrates the nexus frequently uncovered by law enforcement between vehicle thefts and organized criminal groups," said Acting Attorney General Platkin. "Car thieves not only cause big financial losses, as we see in this case—in many cases they use stolen vehicles in connection with additional serious crimes and violence. We are expanding the Auto Theft Task Force and taking other concrete steps to curb vehicle thefts and protect New Jersey residents."

Peppers and Copeland face conspiracy and burglary charges.

Khiree A. Smith, 30, of Newark, Kaiyir T. Green, 19, of Newark, Alquan A. Harris, 22, of East Orange, and Tyheem A. Pollard-Raines, 27, of Blackwood, were indicted in November.  Peppers was included in that prior indictment, too.

The five were accused of stealing five vehicles from a Jersey City dealership on June 10, 2021; the theft of six vehicles from an Englewood dealership on June 14, 2021; and the theft of a vehicle from a driveway in Moorestown, N.J., on May 19, 2021.

The theft ring also allegedly broke into a dealership in Hillside, N.J., on June 10, 2021, and stole non-functioning key fobs.

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Peppers allegedly eluded a New Jersey state trooper in East Brunswick on June 10, 2021, and Smith allegedly eluded a patrol officer of the Oceanport Police Department on June 11, 2021. Each defendant allegedly drove away at high speed when the officer attempted to make a vehicle stop.

Peppers, Smith, and Harris are being held in jail pending trial. Copeland, Green, and Pollard-Raines were released from custody.

The latest indictment comes one day after Platkin announced that the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice are expanding the Auto Theft Task Force by adding more detectives and prosecutors and by partnering with additional police departments from around the state.

As crime rates rise, Platkin is prioritizing efforts to reduce auto theft as part of a larger strategy to reduce violent crime in New Jersey.

Federal authorities had previously warned in 2020 that thousands of vehicles have been stolen or carjacked throughout the tristate area in order to be illegally exported from the United States through various marine terminals located in/around the Port of New York/Newark.