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St. Matthews police uncover complex car theft crime ring

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The owner of Craig and Landreth Cars, Joey Craig, became suspicious Saturday when a customer who bought an expensive car the day before showed up to his dealership attempting to buy a second expensive car.

He said the person didn’t want to put any money down for the car and asked to receive it on credit.

“Once we thought about it harder and once we dug in, we realized we had a problem,” Craig said.

Craig has dealt with these situations before, and he called the St. Matthews Police Department, who sent an officer to the dealership to question the individual.

“As [the officer] was talking to that person, he learned that person’s child was in danger if they did not return with the vehicle they were sent to purchase on Saturday,” St. Matthews Police detective Lisa Doyle said.

From there, officers proceeded with kidnapping protocol until they were able to determine the child was safe. During that process, they uncovered a complex crime ring where criminals steal someone’s identity to make fake credit cards and IDs, then coerce people to go to dealerships to steal those cars.

“It’s my understanding that the kind of ring leaders of this operation make sure they quiz the people and makes sure they’re very familiar with the person’s identity that they’re using at the time,” Doyle said.

Once they steal the cars, the criminals drive back to Atlanta where the crime ring is based.

However, after learning about the operation, St. Matthews Police Department reached out to the Kentucky State Police to help recover the stolen cars before they crossed state lines. Troopers patrolled I-65 and uncovered five of the six cars stolen from area dealerships before they made it back to Atlanta.

Some of the drivers pulled over without incident, two others sped off causing officers to lose sight of the cars. Later, police found them ditched on the side of the road and at the bottom of Freeman Lake in Elizabethtown.

Three people are currently in custody, and St. Matthews Police is confident it will be able to identity the four remaining suspects.

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