Hot Wheels. 6 charged with stealing pricey vehicles as part of organized theft crew

Authorities say they’ve busted a crew of car thieves that targeted expensive vehicles in affluent towns – including one set of wheels that sells for just under $200,000.

The six alleged thieves – four have been arrested, two are sought – are from Newark.

They stole vehicles in Bergen, Burlington, Somerset and Monmouth counties, including four in one day in Holmdel, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday evening.

Dante Jones, 18; Kevon Wright, 18; Omari Shomari, 18; Ismeal Merrill, 25;  Muhammad Merrill, 21; and Layquan Davis, 18, are charged with second-degree conspiracy to receive stolen property.

All have been arrested except for Ismeal Merrill and Shomari, who remained fugitives Tuesday night.

They’re charged with stealing the following cars in July, all which had their key fob left inside the vehicle, were parked in the driveway. They were all later recovered in Newark.

– a 2017 Bentley Continental from Monmouth Beach, on July 11

– a 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio from Moorestown, on July 16

– a 2015 Land Rover Evoque from Warren, on July 17

– a 2018 Audi Q5 from Hillsdale, on July 19

– a 2017 Mercedes Benz C300 from Holmdel, on July 24

– a 2016 Land Rover Range Rover from Holmdel, on July 24

– a 2018 Audi from Holmdel, on July 24

– a 2018 Ford F150 from Holmdel, on July 24 

The Bentley Continental typically sells for just under $200,000.

In all, the eight vehicles are worth about $500,000, according to Assistant Prosecutor Joseph A. Giordano, who is handling the case.

“As we celebrate National Night Out Against Crime today, everyone should be mindful that they can decrease the rate of auto burglaries and theft in this state by locking their vehicles and taking their car keys or fobs with them,” Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino said in an announcement.

Muhammad Merrill appeared before a judge Tuesday, who ordered he be detained until trial, while Davis and Wright were released under home confinement, the prosecutor’s office said.

Jones has a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

In addition to the stolen property charge, Davis was charged with possessing 200 grams of marijuana and one deck of heroin, and both Merrills are also charged with credit card thefts. The prosecutor’s office said they used credit cards belonging to the Alfa Romeo owner at a WalMart in Kearny. 

The New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force started the investigation with assistance from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit.

Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

 

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