Stolen cars found en route to foreign destinations

July 03, 2008|By Dick Irwin | Dick Irwin,SUN REPORTER

At least six vehicles reported stolen this year in Maryland and on their way to foreign countries by freighter have been recovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, an agency spokesman said this week.

Two of the vehicles, a 2000 Nissan Maxima and a 1999 Toyota Camry, were heading to Nigeria and Niger, respectively, Steve Sapp said in a news release. .

Sapp said CBP agents at the port of Baltimore routinely review exports to determine whether shipping firms are complying with U.S. export laws. Agents enter a vehicle's identification number into the databases of various law enforcement agencies and discover vehicles that have been stolen.

During an average year, nearly a dozen stolen vehicles about to be shipped overseas are discovered at Baltimore's port, he said. Nearly twice that number were recovered in 2007, he said.

Sapp said a stolen 2008 Porsche and a 2008 Hummer were bound for Russia when they were recovered during a routine inspection at the Baltimore port in March.

In April, the crew of a Baltimore police helicopter was flying over one of the city's ports when it picked up an anti-theft device alert signal coming from a freighter heading for Norfolk, Va., the ship's next port-of-call, Sapp said.

Customs agents and Norfolk police located the freighter, which was bound for Ghana, and recovered two vehicles, which were turned over to Virginia State Police.

"These stolen vehicle recoveries are a testament to our officers' thoroughness in examining exports in the port of Baltimore, and their unwavering commitment to protecting our homeland and our citizens," said Walter Simmons, acting port director of Baltimore.

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