The grainy, black-and-white surveillance video captured by a camera at a Fort Lauderdale condo complex appears to show two motorcycles being brazenly stolen from the parking lot – a crime police say is becoming increasingly common.
Just a week earlier, a motorcycle shop was broken into around 4 in the morning, a pickup truck driven through the front window and then loaded up with four bikes. An hour before that, another shop in Miami was robbed of two dirt bikes in the same way.
The reason our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers have taken note is because these types of crimes (seemingly victimless, as insurance companies often cover the losses) carry stiff penalties for anyone convicted. And while heisting the bikes has historically been incredibly easy, getting away with it is getting much harder, due to GPS technology that alerts owners when the vehicle has been moved.
In fact, North Miami police recently reported that it was a GPS device on a single bike that led them to a so-called “chop shop” that was being operated inside a home residence. There, officers say motorcycle parts from approximately 100 or so stolen bikes were stacked up to the ceiling. That was Nov. 30, and it was believed to be one of the largest such operations ever uncovered in South Florida. Two men were arrested in connection with the operation, and more arrests could be pending.
In another case, bikes were reportedly being stolen from South Florida streets and then smuggled onto container shops and sent to buyers in the Caribbean, where such vehicles are often more common than cars.
In that situation, investigators honed in on a middle man during a year-long investigation kicked off by a tipster. Lower-level thieves reportedly called this individual after they had stolen a motorcycle. The middleman would then find a buyer, pay a few thousand dollars – give or take – for the bike and then personally deliver it to the buyer. He was making roughly $500 per deal. A former mechanic, he also took orders from buyers, many of whom were ordering newer bikes that retail for upward of $25,000. It took six law enforcement teams to take the team down. Six individuals were arrested on charges such as racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and dealing in stolen property.
Florida Statute 812.014 governs theft crimes. Theft of any motor vehicle is typically charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. If you are found to be operating within a larger operation, you could be looking at conspiracy or racketeering charges, and possibly even federal prosecution. Most defendants when arrested in these cases have no idea how gravely serious it is. It is absolutely critical to obtain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible following arrest.
Especially if you are operating within a larger organization, it often comes down to who can strike a deal faster. You don’t want to be the last man (or woman) out.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Motorcycles: Fast and sexy to thieves, too, Dec. 12, 2012, By Linda Trischitta, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Cases Often Rely on Cell Phone Data, Dec. 1, 2012, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog