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Alleged car theft ring is broken up

The Los Angeles Police Department’s auto crimes unit has broken up a San Fernando Valley auto theft ring in which seven young men were stealing vehicles and possibly transporting them to Mexico, authorities said Tuesday.

Although investigators said they had not determined whether any of the cars were smuggled out of the country, they recovered dozens of keys with no matching vehicles.

In addition to the auto thefts, the group of male friends ranging in age from 17 to 20 is also accused of home burglaries in the Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana and West Hills areas of the San Fernando Valley, authorities said, adding that some of the crimes extended into Ventura County.

The thieves returned to many of the victims’ homes after stealing their vehicles and took items such as credit cards, jewelry, laptop computers and digital cameras, police said.

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Most of the burglaries occurred in the West Valley, said Det. Thomas Barnhart, a member of the auto crimes unit known as the Community Effort to Combat Auto Theft.

Nine vehicles were recovered during the investigation, along with 100 stolen property items, Barnhart said. The multi-agency investigation was led by the auto theft task force, which began its probe in late October.

Victims of recent home burglaries in the area may visit the West Valley station from 3 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3 to reclaim stolen items.

-- Ruben Vives


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