BMW Stolen in Atlanta, Recovered in Charlotte After Thief Attempted "Cloning" — Suspect Arrested

  • April 21, 2012
  • recovery stories

In late February 2012, the Texas-based owner of a 2008 BMW X3 drove the vehicle to Atlanta for a vacation and surgery, leaving the vehicle parked and unattended for the duration of the more than two-week stay. When the owner returned to the vehicle on March 1, 2012, he discovered the BMW missing and immediately reported the theft to the Atlanta Police Department.  
Atlanta officers responded to the scene, prepared a stolen vehicle report and had the BMW’s information entered into the state and federal crime computer systems. This routine police action automatically activated the LoJack transponder concealed in the vehicle.  Neither the owner nor law enforcement agents had to do anything else to activate the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery Network, because LoJack’s interface with law enforcement is both seamless and instantaneous.
The following morning, officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) received the BMW’s silent LoJack signal on the LoJack Police Tracking Computer installed in their patrol units. The CMPD Auto Theft Unit joined in the search for the BMW. Following the directional and audible signal on the tracking computers, the Auto Theft Unit officers tracked the BMW to the parking lot of a small apartment complex off N. Sharon Amity Road. There, they located the vehicle, parked in an assigned space. Officers approached the apartment that corresponded to the parking space and made contact with a male subject, who appeared to be very nervous.  After acknowledging the BMW’s presence, the subject fled through the apartment and out the back door. Despite efforts, officers were unable to locate the suspect.
 An on-sight investigation of the vehicle revealed that the BMW’s public vehicle identification number (VIN) plate had been altered.  The BMW was towed and stored for further examination and processing. Further examination revealed the VIN plate had been covered with a VIN of a 2007 BMW.  The Federal decals, door VIN labels and the factory stamped VIN had been removed and replaced with the VIN of a 2007 BMW. This process – using another vehicle’s VIN to title a stolen car – is known as cloning.
The male suspect was identified and search warrants were drawn. The suspect was taken into custody, where he stated that he had purchased the BMW in Atlanta for $1,200, returned to Charlotte to insure the car, and attempted to tag and title the vehicle under the 2007 BMW’s VIN.
An identity of the male subject was made; arrest and search warrants were drawn and served at the recovery location.  The suspect was taken into custody and he made a statement that he had purchased the 2008 BMW in Atlanta for $1,200.00; returned to Charlotte to insure the car and attempt to tag and title the car under the 2007 BMW VIN.
The LoJack Vehicle Recovery System was installed in the BMW at the owner’s request in February 2011.