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from yahoo.com 2-16-04
Stolen Vehicles Found in Central America
Mon Feb 16, 2:11 AM ET Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!

By PAM EASTON, Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON - Former Houston Oilers football player Alonzo Highsmith has wondered for almost a decade what happened to his fully-loaded Ford F-250 truck after it was stolen from a Houston restaurant parking lot in 1995.
Turns out it ended up a lot farther away than he ever imagined: It's in Guatemala.
Houston police found the Ford, along with more than 3,200 stolen vehicles — most from Texas, California and Florida — by tracing vehicle identification numbers through a Guatemalan database.
"I was hoping that it would be found, but as the weeks and months went by I thought, 'Well, that is the end of this truck.' I was like a grieving parent," said Highsmith, who had financed the $30,000 truck just weeks before it was stolen.
Highsmith, now a scout for the Green Bay Packers, learned recently from The Associated Press the whereabouts of his truck and that Guatemalan authorities are now trying to recover it.
Through database work, Houston police want to stem the flow of an estimated 200,000 U.S. vehicles that vanish south of the border each year. Comparing databases has proved useful because thieves don't always change vehicle identification numbers, said Houston Police Sgt. T.J. Salazar, the city's primary contact with Guatemalan authorities.
"The NAFTA freeway makes it so easy and inexpensive for them to just steal the car and drive it down from Houston to Guatemala," said Lt. Victor Rodriguez of Houston's auto theft division. "They can do it for $100 in gas, and there are very few checks."
It is suspected that many of the vehicles end up in Mexico. Others make it farther south.
Gaining access to Guatemala's database took time, communication and lots of tedious work, Salazar said. It could be even more challenging in countries where paper files and typewriters are still used, he said.
"No country really checks its registrations against another country's stolen vehicles," said Rodriguez, who estimates vehicle theft generates $8 billion a year. He's in Washington, D.C., working for a year with the FBI (news - web sites) to promote and expand his department's efforts to other countries.
Central American countries and Mexico "are beginning to see the totality of the problem," said Ralph Lumpkin, border operations director of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
"They see the theft problem as being an economic drain on them as well," Lumpkin said.
It's also damaging for insurance companies, such as Cleveland-based Progressive, which joined the tracking effort, donating everything from computers to stolen vehicles recovered by Guatemalan police.
Stephen Braunholz, a Progressive investigator, said Houston police helped his company find 17 stolen vehicles in Guatemala worth about $188,000. The company estimates it could have $1.3 million worth of vehicles in the country.
Getting vehicles back is a difficult task, requiring time, money and assorted international hurdles.
For example, it has taken more than a year and a half to get a Toyota Camry, found in the Dominican Republic within 45 days of being stolen, onto a cargo ship, Braunholz said.
"It typifies the issue," he said. "We have probably lost $10,000 to $15,000 in value just for it having sit over there for a year and a half. When it comes back here, we probably won't get but half price."
The effort is further complicated in countries such as Mexico, which, like America, maintain databases in each state — making comparison an increased diplomatic and logistical challenge, Salazar said.
"We're not even scratching the surface on stolen vehicles," he said.
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (euclid)

i don't have anything really to say about this; just that this is the ONLY post in the CL first page without an image OR a poll.
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (boi retro)

Quote, originally posted by boi retro »
i don't have anything really to say about this; just that this is the ONLY post in the CL first page without an image OR a poll.

haha! Except for the "What time is it in Germany" thread..
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (euclid)

Man, I thought this was almost common knowledge. How can they JUST be beginning to scratch the surface on this?
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (euclid)

What is sad is the border patrol identifies dozens of stolen cars go across each day with their automatic plate scanning software, but it isn't in their authority to recover stolen vehicles.

Dave.
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (speedn16v)

right, they get paid to shoot illegals, and eat and eat and eat (NO offense)
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (sharkytm)

I remember seeing a piece on 60 minutes or a similar show a while ago. The reporter found that even mexican police were driving vehicles stolen from the U.S. Some still had the original license plates on them. From what I understand, it is pretty common.
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (boi retro)

Quote, originally posted by boi retro »
i don't have anything really to say about this; just that this is the ONLY post in the CL first page without an image OR a poll.

and is actually worth reading

...oh and it now has a picture
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (euclid)

i've told people that if i really wanted my Scirocco 16V wheels and interior back, i would have just got on a plane and flown to Puerto Rico.
but for some reason people thought it was a joke

obin
 

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Re: Stolen Car? Try Searching South of the Border. (drdisco)

A stolen vehicle from the US is called here a "hot potato" (don't have a clue why...) and they are often sold for 1,000 dollars!
Yes, I know that sometimes police use them, and they use them mostly in cases where they know that the cars involved on an operation will end up being destroyed...
(Its kinda funny that in some operations the cars end up totalled because a croud throwing stones managed to get a car trapped, stone it until it is destroyed, burn them or crash them...)
But they don't only use the stolen cars, because the cops don't buy them, here is what really happens...
The SHCP (the agency that collects taxes) detects and illegal vehicle, they don't care if it is stolen or how it got there, it is illegal and has no importation papers, the car gets impounded.
There are TONS of impounded cars in their lots, so they have to do something to them, sometimes they register them and then sell them, other times they just give them to other agencies as scrapable cars, and sometimes they set up auctions where the general public can buy them.
The process is supposed to check each vehicle for its procedence, and it its origin is a little bit "shady" the car stays impounded.
Now is where the corruption takes place, the operators of the impound lots steal the cars and sell it, or something similar, I really don't know how they "operate".
 
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