2005-04-08 / Community

Motorcycle ‘Steal Man’ Sentenced To Prison

A Bayswater man was sentenced last week to four-and-a-half to nine-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a in a $1 million motorcycle theft and fencing ring, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.

Jose Hernandez, 32, was arrested in January with more than a dozen other alleged accomplices who were accused of stealing more than 80 motorcycles. Hernandez had a stolen 2004 Honda CBR in the back of his van on the day police took down the alleged ring, according to court records.

The criminal enterprise consisted of fences, locators and “steal men,” who allegedly would spot bikes around the tri-state area, copy their license plate numbers, obtain the owner’s name and address by paying an insurance broker a $15 fee – and then go to the owner’s residence to steal the bike, Brown said.

The expensive bikes were then chopped in Queens and the parts sold via the Internet mainly to “Dwarf” car racers in the Mid-West and in other countries. Dwarf cars, which are powered by motorcycle engines and raced on private tracks, are not subject to government regulation or inspection.

The combined price tag on the hot bikes exceeded $1 million.

The investigation began in March 2004 when a motorcycle owner in Ridgewood, Queens told police that he recognized parts of his motorcycle, which had been stolen from his driveway, up for sale on the Internet site eBay. The probe included the use of sophisticated court-authorized electronic surveillance and the execution of 15 “sneak and peak” search warrants, which allowed officers to secretly intercept and open packages containing stolen engines, enabling the investigation to continue.

Hernandez, who lives at 10-38 Bay 32 Street, pled guilty on March 7 to enterprise corruption and burglary in the second degree, said Brown.

Other defendants were charged variously with enterprise corruption, burglary in the second and third degree, grand larceny third degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the first and fourth degree, forgery of vehicle identification numbers and conspiracy in the fifth degree.

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