Eight men from Queens and one from Long Island were arrested last week on charges of selling parts stolen from towed cars, authorities said.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik announced the arrests on June 27 of the nine men, all of whom were charged with possession of stolen goods and petit larceny.
The nine men arrested were either affiliated with five auto parts stores where the stolen parts were allegedly sold or worked for a tow truck company in the southeast Queens neighborhoods of Queens Village, Hollis and Ozone Park.
Despite the fact that auto crime in Queens County has been dramatically reduced in the last 10 years, going from over 50,000 cars stolen in 1991 to 12,000 last year, dealing in stolen auto parts continues, Brown said.
He said the investigation centered on five auto parts stores, which allegedly were buying and selling the parts over the counter.
The investigation into several tow truck operators, Brown said, came after several residents complained that their belongings had been taken from their cars after they had been towed.
Operation Lug-nut, in addition to targeting auto parts stores dealing in stolen auto parts, responded to complaints of missing personal property from citizens who had their cars towed, Kerik said. Any businesses which take advantage of people who call for help and add to their suffering [are] despicable and will be prosecuted.
The nine men arrested were Vito Richelti, 45, of 109-17 Centerville St. in Ozone Park; Vincent Lanzona, 54, of 162-41 97th St., Howard Beach; Herbert Hernandez, 40, of 93-01 205th St., Hollis; Robles Jordi, 37, 108-35 38th Ave., Corona; William Novlett, 42, of 194-16 39th Ave., Corona; Thakdor Misir, 41, of 21 Everdell Place, Rockaway; Gregory Mitchell, 45, of 197-14 Nashville Blvd., Springfield Gardens; Manuel Rodriguez, 48, 90-34 211th St., Queens Village; and Basdeo Pittam, 37, of 16 Heathcote Road, Elmont, L.I.
If convicted, the men face up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
The stores that four of the men are affiliated with are: New Millennium Auto Collision at 198-25 Jamaica Ave. in Hollis; Auto Plaza Haro Flat Fix, 198-30 Jamaica Ave., Hollis; E&J Flat Fix, 98-43 212th St., Queens Village; S. Salaam Alaikum Tire Shop, 214-44 Jamaica Ave., Queens Village; and Safe Ride Tire and Auto Glass Center at 104-19 and 104-27 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village.
The district attorney said police seized nine air bags, three stolen car stereo amplifiers and four tire rims from the auto parts stores.
Police also searched Drakes Automotive Corp. of 216-20 Hempstead Ave. in Cambria Heights, a private residence at 93-01 205th St. in Hollis, Three King Towing at 103-43 100th St. in Ozone Park and a 2000 Quest Nissan van registered to a tow truck operator at Drakes Automotive.
Brown said some of the stolen items recovered during the searches were DVDs, power tools, a cassette player and other personal items.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2001 Community News Group
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