Today’s news:

Car theft ringleader guilty

A Ridgewood man pleaded guilty last week to running a boroughwide car theft ring and selling the fruits of the crimes to friends and family members.

Clayton Delgado, of 18-05 Norman St., was the ringleader behind the theft of 17 cars over the course of last year, often reselling them with falsified titles, according to the Queens district attorney.

“Auto theft is a serious crime that greatly affects the quality of life for the residents of Queens and it will not be tolerated,” said Richard Brown, the district attorney, said in a statement. Delgado and his partners stole vehicles off the streets and then stamped new vehicle identification numbers on the cars making them harder to track, according to the DA.

They then either resold the vehicles with fake titles through the web site Craigslist, sold them to family or friends or just kept the cars for themselves.

In one case, three hours after one victim purchased a car, the crew stole it and then resold it before the victim had a chance to put his name on the title.

Two other suspects pleaded guilty last week and were sentenced to 1 1/2 to three years, although 10 people were initially arrested in a sting operation the NYPD dubbed “Operation Tag Team.”

The operation took 16 months to uncover the theft ring, the DA said, and the thieves will face jail time for the crimes.

“The sentence which the defendant is to receive is serious prison time and should serve as a warning to those who would steal vehicles off the streets in Queens.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter handled the case and said he would send Delgado behind bars for between three to nine years.

Delgado was scheduled to be sentenced March 29.

Buchter was set to sentence the two other members of the ring, Christian Soto and Raymond Soto of Brooklyn, Friday. The duo will face between 1 1/2 to three years in prison, Buchter said.

The plea comes a week after another auto theft ring was busted by the NYPD.

Four tow truck drivers and another man allegedly stole 21 cars over a five-month period, then dismantled the vehicles and sold the metal for scrap, the DA said.

The company that received the dismembered cars and paid between $200 and $400 for each one was previously owned by Victoria Gotti’s former husband and reputed Gambino crime family member Carmine Angello.

So far this year, boroughwide auto thefts are up by 3.3 percent, rising from 548 to 566, according to statistics from the NYPD.

But according to the DA, there were only 3,400 car thefts last year — a roughly 90 percent decrease since 1991, when 52,000 cars were stolen in the borough.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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