(Bay City News) SAN JOSE Beginning a year ago, a group of self-proclaimed "gypsies" struck several South Bay car dealers using false identities and financial information to steal at least 113 vehicles, authorities announced at a news conference Tuesday.
Approximately 25 people have been arrested and police are seeking more than 50 additional suspects as part of a scam that lasted from August 2004 until approximately early February of this year, according to San Jose Police Lt. Vaughn Edwards, head of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force.
"The suspects were self proclaimed gypsies," Edwards said. "They were all connected either by family or some other connection."
Gypsies from across the country came to the San Jose area to participate in the scam after it was posted on an Internet chat room used by gypsies, according to Edwards.
"There is in fact a pretty good communication network via the Internet," Edwards said. "It's a very close knit group."
Suspects have been arrested as far away as Alaska and cars stolen in San Jose have been recovered across the country in states including New Jersey, Texas and Florida.
Authorities did not even become aware of the scam until late February when the car dealers finally reported it.
By then, the gypsies had largely stopped working the scam because car dealers had tightened their procedures for verifying a car buyer's financial information before allowing a vehicle to be driven off of the lot, Edwards said.
The car dealers targeted by the suspects were Capitol Honda, Carl Chevrolet, Courtesy Chevrolet and Chris's Dodge World. The most popular cars taken by the suspects were Honda Accords and Civics but some suspects took Hummers and Corvettes, Edwards said.
While these nomadic criminals appear not to be targeting South Bay car dealers any more they often move about the country doing the same type of scam over and over.
"Philadelphia and Chicago, they got hit with a ton of these," Edwards said.
Some of these criminals may remain in the Bay Area perpetrating other scams such as elder abuse. Residents, especially the elderly, should be cautious and report any suspicious activity or contacts to police, according to Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery.
"The best way to prosecute these cases is to make sure they don't happen in the first place," Flattery said.
Authorities have placed photographs of the suspects still at-large in this case on the Web sites of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, www.sccgov.org, and the San Jose Police Department, www.sjpd.org.
Anyone with information on the suspects' whereabouts or any information about this case should call Morrow or Detective Joe Mamone at (408) 808-4555.
"Self-proclaimed Gypsies", states this article, are those supposedly responsible for those car thefts but no one even asks as to whether those people are Gypsies, as in Romani, by ethnicity. I would suspect that those "self-proclaimed Gypsies" are more than likely so-called Irish Travelers who are not ethnically Gypsies, as per the dictionary, but Irish non-Romani trailer trash, living, in the main from scams of various degrees and types. Instead of using "Gypsies" in their article and by the police departments in their press releases maybe it would be a good idea if they would be more precise, instead of accusing all Gypsies, yet again, as thieves, vagabonds, rogues and criminals of all kinds. But then, it would appear, the police departments in the land of the free and the home of the brave, a country that wants to be the world's policeman, can use racist remarks without impunity. But, knowing the ignorance of many US police officers, like US citizens in general, I am not surprised about such attitudes. People, who rarely ever get outside their county let alone their state and definitely not out of their own country but still think they know it all and have rather a pigheaded attitude against other cultures, cannot react in any other way. This can also be seen in the war on terrorism where they certainly will never win the hearts and minds of the people. I wonder whether they would dare to say "a Jewish Car Theft Ring" is the people all be Jewish??? Well, dosta penavas.