Group Stole Over $3 Million Dollars in Cars, Merchandise, and Cash across Eleven Counties, Including Suffolk and Nassau
Six members of a crew responsible for over 200 burglaries of car dealerships, cellular phone stores, and ATM businesses located were convicted on charges of grand larceny, among other charges.
The crew of Willie Baines, 47; Joseph Cartagena, 27; Brandon Collazo-Rivera, 26; Justin Herrera, 23; Douglas Noble, 29; and Alexander Santiago, 28, all of Bronx County, allegedly stole cars, cellular phones, merchandise, and cash valued at more than $3 million, including at least 54 vehicles. The convictions were the result of a 13-month joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Auto Crime Unit, and 29 local and county police departments.
“The six individuals convicted and sentenced went on a crime spree that impacted businesses and residents throughout downstate New York,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “These burglars left a trail of broken glass, smashed businesses, and dangerous high-speed chases in their wake. I thank my partners in local law enforcement for their coordination and support as we took down this dangerous crew. Our communities are safer now that these six individuals have been brought to justice.”
“This is one of those cases that highlights the extraordinary cooperation across multiple police departments and agencies in the New York Metropolitan area,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “The NYPD Auto Crime Unit is proud to have worked with the New York State Attorney General and all the other departments involved in bringing this brazen burglary crew to justice.”
During the 13-month investigation, the theft crew was connected to over 200 commercial burglaries in eleven downstate counties, including Nassau and Suffolk. The investigation revealed that members of the theft crew would travel to neighborhoods that contained several car dealerships and cell phone stores, often burglarizing several stores in one night.
In the automobile dealership burglaries, members of the crew would smash the large windows at the front of the building, locate boxes in the dealership that contained key fobs, and then drive vehicles they were able to start right through the broken windows. In the cell phone and ATM store burglaries, members of the crew would smash the glass front doors, enter the stores’ showrooms and offices, and steal as much merchandise and cash as they could carry out.
The theft crew would often wait for the police to respond to a burglary alarm, and then engage in high-speed chases from the crime scene which posed additional risks for law enforcement and the surrounding community. This behavior led law enforcement to dub the investigation “Operation Redline” in reference to the redline on speedometers and the extreme speeds the burglars would achieve as they fled crime scenes.
Investigators from OCTF and NYPD were able to identify the six individuals charged in the case through the review of video surveillance recordings, data from cellular telephones, license plate reader data, and information provided by numerous county and local police departments. A search of the residences of two of the individuals led to the recovery of thousands of dollars in stolen cell phones and key fobs from car dealerships.
Additionally, several of the defendants posted photographs on various social media outlets posing with some of the stolen vehicles, and displaying large quantities of cash. Many of the social media posts occurred just minutes after the crimes, allowing investigators to connect the stolen property seen in the posts to specific burglaries and defendants.
The six defendants were charged with various counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (Class C felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class D felony), and Burglary in the Third Degree (Class D felony). All of the defendants have pled guilty to felony charges and all of the individuals received prison sentences. The defendants and their convictions are listed below:
Cartagena, Collazo-Rivera, Noble and Santiago pled guilty to second-degree grand larceny, a Class C felony. Herrera pled guilty to third-degree burglary, a Class D felony, Barnes was also convicted of third-degree attempted burglary, also a Class D felony.
The charges in the indictments were the result of a joint investigation by OAG’s OCTF and NYPD’s Auto Crime Unit. In addition, James thanked Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly for her valuable participation in this investigation.
The investigation involved the cooperation of numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments and the following village police departments: Amityville, Floral Park and Hempstead.