Arrest Made in Two-state Vehicle Theft Ring

The Marine Police Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Fairhope Police Department, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, and Mississippi Marine Resources Division, along with four other agencies, busted a vehicle theft ring that covered the Alabama coastal area and western Mississippi. All of the stolen property had been disguised by repainting, removing or altering serial numbers, and several were registered with fraudulent paperwork.

Acting on a tip, investigators recovered a $30,000 boat from a residence in Theodore on March 10. The boat had been stolen from Sportsman’s Marine in Fairhope and had been disguised and registered with a forged bill of sale. On March 25, they recovered property including boats, trucks and ATVs from homes in Theodore, Semmes, and Lucedale, Mississippi. At the Lucedale residence, investigators also found a large number of firearms in the possession of a convicted felon.

A 21-year-old Theodore man was arrested March 29 and charged with Receiving Stolen Property I, Obscuring the I.D. of a Vehicle, and Forgery II. Five other arrests are pending. One of the suspects has admitted to knowledge of more than two dozen boat, ATV, and vehicle thefts from Baldwin and Mobile counties and west Mississippi.

“The lack of titles for ATVs and boats in Alabama makes these items easy prey for vehicle theft rings,” said Lt. Alex C. Smith of the Alabama Marine Police. “There are separate bills in the legislature at this time to address titling ATVs, and to close loopholes on boat trailers, motors, and forfeiture provisions.”

Other agencies involved in the investigation were the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Gulf Shores Police Department, Mobile Police Department, and Daphne Police Department. Investigators are still following leads and attempting to recover two CJ-7 Jeeps, a John Deere tractor, two 14-15 ft. fiberglass boats, two ATVs, and several Chevy trucks. Anyone who may have information regarding the thefts is asked to call the Marine Police Division at 1-888-903-2583, or the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office in Theodore.