Brooklyn businesses among the targets in multimillion-dollar burglary spree

Brazen display: Thieves flaunt stolen wealth on social media

August 7, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the conviction of six men responsible for a prolific crime wave across the downstate region of New York, which affected businesses and residents alike.

The crew, identified as Willie Baines, Josepher Cartagena, Brandon Collazo-Rivera, Justin Herrera, Douglas Noble, and Alexander Santiago, were all from the Bronx County. Their nefarious activities spanned 11 counties, including Kings County Brooklyn, resulting in losses exceeding $3 million.

“The six individuals convicted and sentenced went on a crime spree that impacted businesses and residents throughout downstate New York,” said Attorney General James. “These burglars left a trail of broken glass, smashed businesses, and dangerous high-speed chases in their wake. I thank my partners in local law enforcement for their coordination and support as we took down this dangerous crew.”

Another member of the infamous burglary crew, blissfully unaware of his impending capture, smiles from the hood of a stolen sports car. These online postings served as crucial pieces of evidence leading to their conviction.

The thieves’ nefarious activities, which involved over 200 commercial burglaries, impacted car dealerships, cellular phone stores, and ATM businesses. The targets were not confined to New York State but extended to Connecticut and New Jersey. The crew is responsible for the theft of at least 54 vehicles, a bevy of cellular phones, cash, and other merchandise.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“This is one of those cases that highlights the extraordinary cooperation across multiple police departments and agencies in the New York Metropolitan area,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban. “The NYPD Auto Crime Unit is proud to have worked with the New York State Attorney General and all the other departments involved in bringing this brazen burglary crew to justice.”

A member of the notorious burglary crew arrogantly poses in a luxury vehicle, stolen in one of their many daring heists. Their audacious social media posts were often shared just minutes after each crime.

The convictions follow a 13-month joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Auto Crime Unit, and 29 local and county police departments.

The six defendants have all pled guilty to felony charges, and each has received a prison sentence. Among them, Josepher Cartagena, 27, and Brandon Collazo-Rivera, 26, pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony. Justin Herrera, 23, was found guilty of Burglary in the Third Degree, a Class D felony.

Brooklyn was significantly affected by the crime spree, with several businesses in the borough reporting burglaries and losses. Investigators found that the crew typically targeted neighborhoods with a high density of car dealerships and cell phone stores, often hitting multiple stores in a single night. They would smash storefront windows, make off with key fobs and vehicles, or carry away as much merchandise and cash as they could handle.

The crew’s audacious tactics extended beyond the burglaries. They were known to engage law enforcement in dangerous high-speed chases, a behavior that led to the operation being dubbed “Operation Redline,” in reference to the extreme speeds the burglars would reach while evading capture. Through a combination of video surveillance, data from cellular telephones, and license plate readers, investigators were able to identify and arrest the crew members.


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