Dec. 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A group of thieves have been busted by police for targeting cars with expensive wheels in Forest Hills, Maspeth, Flushing, Glendale and other areas throughout Queens.
The group, consisting of three men, allegedly stole more than $42,000 worth of tires and rims from parked Honda cars–and then left the vehicles sitting on milk crates. More than a dozen vehicles were hit, with the crimes taking place at night between November 2019 and May 2020, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
The men have been variously charged with grand larceny, auto stripping, criminal possession of stolen property, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
“Under the cover of darkness, and armed with car jacks and lug wrenches, these defendants allegedly stole tires and rims from more than a dozen cars,” Katz said. “This kind of thievery costs car owners thousands of dollars, but this crew is now officially out of business.”
Jonathan Pacheco, 30, the alleged ring-leader of the group, was arrested in Pennsylvania earlier this week and extradited to Queens to face charges.
Pacheco, from 97th Street, first struck on Nov. 7, 2019, when he was caught on CCTV stripping a parked 2019 Honda Civic in Oakland Gardens, Katz said.
The video allegedly shows Pacheco driving up alongside the Honda in his own vehicle. He is then seen, along with a crew member, removing the lug nuts from the Honda and then stealing all four tires and rims. The pair left the Honda propped on top of milk crates.
Pacheco, working with his crew, allegedly stole wheels and rims from multiple Hondas over the following six months. He allegedly participated in a total of “14 steals” and was finally nabbed after making deals to sell some of the stolen items to an undercover detective.
Katz also charged Pacheco’s two crew members. Fabian Rodriguez, 33, also from 97th Street, and Jacob Martinez, 29, from Brooklyn, were arraigned today along with Pacheco.
Pacheco and Rodriguez were both charged with auto stripping in the first degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. They both face up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
Martinez was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. He faces up to 4 years in prison if convicted.