Gangsters steal 13 fancy cars, sell them overseas

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Gangsters steal 13 fancy cars, sell them overseas

A 29-year-old man surnamed Choi rented a BMW 520d series car from a rental shop in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi on April 26.

Choi, who agreed to pay 300,000 won ($264) per day for the rental, showed the shop manager his identification card and filled out the service application form.

A few hours later, the BMW equipped with a GPS tracking system was missing and the signal had disappeared. Not only was the GPS signal gone, but Choi’s phone was turned off.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency reported yesterday it charged 17 men, some gang members and smugglers, with smuggling 13 high-end import vehicles, as well as domestic cars, to central Asian nations such as Mongolia and Tajikistan over a one-year period from June last year.

The police said they smuggled the 13 cars after they rented them from rental shops in Seoul and its surrounding areas. The 13 stolen vehicles are worth nearly 700 million won in total.

After renting the vehicles, the accomplices removed the location-tracking GPS system in the vehicles and replaced the license plates with fraudulent ones.

To avoid suspicion by the authorities, the suspects reported to the police that the cars they rented had been stolen. Each stolen car was sold for from 15-20 million won to brokers, who then smuggled them through the Incheon Harbor, the police said.

The police said it confiscated the account books of a smuggler involved in the crime, adding nearly 300 vehicle-smuggling transactions were recorded in the books.

“We are making efforts to discover additional smuggling of rented vehicles sent overseas [by the 17 suspects],” said a detective involved in the investigation.

BY YOON HO-JIN [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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