Man arrested in multimillion-dollar car theft ring based in IllinoisPublished 6:38pm Monday, October 8, 2012
Local police charged a man traveling on U.S. Highway 31 in a stolen vehicle believed to be part of a multimillion-dollar interstate car theft ring based in Illinois.
According to Chief Milton Agay of the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department, Paul Abbott, 48, of Evanston, Ill., was charged Monday with possession of a stolen motor vehicle and fleeing and eluding police after BSOPD officer Russ Robbins stopped a stolen 2012 Chrysler 300 — valued at $30,000 — stolen from Napleton Chrysler in Lansing, Ill.
Abbott was traveling 87 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone. Abbott was not able to produce all the necessary paperwork for the vehicle.
Robbins requested a drug dog come to the scene to assist in the investigation. Officer Shane Daniels, from the Niles City Police, responded with their dog. Once Abbott found out a drug dog had been called, he fled the traffic stop in the car reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph, until Abbott just pulled over and stopped again.
Officers believe that during this time, the driver was throwing contraband out of the car window into the wind that ultimately couldn’t be located.
Abbott was placed under arrest and the drug dog alerted to a now empty satchel in the car.
The car was impounded for further investigation and Abbott was lodged in the Berrien County Jail.
The vehicle was again checked by another drug dog, the Baroda Lake Township dog, which also alerted to the same area and satchel. The Michigan State Police Homeland Security Team was asked to check the car for hidden compartments, with none being found.
During this time, it was found that the VIN plate on the dash did not match a hidden VIN located elsewhere on the car. However, both VINs came back to the same type of vehicle.
Upon checking the VIN number on the dashboard, it showed the car was owned by another car dealership in Illinois. After contacting them, it was found that the owner of that car dealership was currently driving the car with the same VIN (as being displayed in the front window) as the one the police had — the two cars were identical down to their color. The hidden VIN returned showing the car belonged to Napelton Chrysler in Illinois. Upon calling Napelton, it was found that their new 2012 Chrysler 300 had been stolen off their car lot in May.
Abbott during the investigation came back to Berrien Springs on multiple occasions attempting to obtain the car using forged documentation showing that he was the owner, along with other counterfeit documents.
This stolen car was part of an interstate multimillion-dollar car theft scheme based in Illinois where forged VIN plates were being made and placed on identical cars and then sold. The case remains under investigation by multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Abbott is a fugitive currently wanted on multiple warrants for his involvement in this theft ring.