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Six Alleged Members Of Auto Theft Ring That Burglarized Car Dealerships in Essex, Hudson, Bergen, ,Union and Stole High-End Vehicles Worth $787,000

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Englewood NJ, Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced charges against six alleged members of an auto theft ring that burglarized car dealerships in four New Jersey counties—Essex, Hudson, Bergen, and Union—taking key fobs they used to steal high-end vehicles from dealership lots.

The following six defendants were charged as the result of “Operation Dealer No Deal,” an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit (MVCNU) Auto Theft Task Force and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau. The latest arrest—of Sharieff N. Copeland— was made yesterday, December 9.

  1. Khiree A. Smith, 29, of Newark, N.J.
  2. Brian Peppers, 30, of Newark, N.J.
  3. Kaiyir T. Green, 19, of Newark, N.J.
  4. Alquan A. Harris, 22, of East Orange, N.J.
  5. Tyheem A. Pollard-Raines, 27, of Blackwood, N.J.
  6. Sharieff N. Copeland, 25, of East Orange, N.J.

The six defendants are charged in connection with thefts of 22 vehicles valued at over $787,000 in May and June 2021. Fourteen were high-end vehicles, including Mercedes, BMWs, Land Rovers, Audis, Infinitis, and a Ford Raptor. Ten vehicles and a safe containing approximately $52,000 in cash were stolen from an Irvington car dealership on June 4; five vehicles were stolen from a Jersey City dealership on June 10; and six vehicles were stolen from an Englewood dealership on June 14. Another vehicle was stolen from a driveway in Moorestown, N.J., on May 19. The theft ring also allegedly burglarized a car dealership in Hillside, N.J., on June 10, stealing non-functioning key fobs.

“We’re cracking down on the criminal enterprises that endanger our state’s residents and businesses, and these arrests demonstrate our ongoing commitment to that effort,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We’re focusing the resources of the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice on our most pressing public safety challenges.”

“This was a prolific criminal enterprise that deployed theft crews after hours to break into dealerships, stealing key fobs and driving off with up to 10 high-end cars at a time,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend the detectives in the State Police Auto Theft Task Force and the attorneys in our Specialized Crimes Bureau for ending this costly crime spree.”

“The suspects arrested during this operation allegedly accumulated stolen vehicles worth almost a million dollars from these high-end auto thefts, and as a result of this investigation, these criminals were stopped in their tracks,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Although these auto theft enterprises are always evolving and using different methods to fund their networks, we will continue to adapt and work with our partners to take down these criminals.”

The DCJ Specialized Crimes Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment on November 10 charging all defendants except Copeland with various offenses related to the burglaries at the car dealerships in Englewood, Jersey City, and Hillside, and the vehicle theft in Moorestown, N.J. Those indicted defendants—Smith, Peppers, Green, Harris, and Pollard-Raines—were previously arrested on warrants issued in June. They are charged with second- or third-degree counts of theft, receiving stolen property, and burglary. All except Pollard-Raines also are charged with second-degree conspiracy.

In addition, Peppers and Smith are charged in the indictment with second-degree eluding. During the course of the investigation, Peppers allegedly eluded a New Jersey state trooper in East Brunswick on June 10, and Smith allegedly eluded a patrol officer of the Oceanport Police Department on June 11. Each defendant allegedly drove away at high speed when the officer attempted to make a vehicle stop.

The indictment is posted at:

Copeland was arrested yesterday, December 9, on newly filed charges alleging that he and Peppers participated—along with other individuals who remain under investigation—in the theft of 10 vehicles from the car dealership in Irvington on June 4. Copeland and Peppers were charged by complaint-warrant on November 16 with second-degree conspiracy to commit theft, second-degree conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property, and third-degree burglary.

Smith, Peppers, and Harris are being held in jail pending trial. Green and Pollard-Raines were released from custody. Copeland is lodged in the Essex County Correctional Facility pending a first appearance.

The complaint-warrants against Copeland and Peppers are posted at:

Deputy Attorney General Danielle Scarduzio is prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.

The investigation by the New Jersey State Police MVCNU Auto Theft Task Force was led by Task Force member Detective Robert Dinsmore, who is on loan from the Warren Township Police Department. The Task Force is supervised by members of the New Jersey State Police Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit.

Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked all of the members of the New Jersey State Police MVCNU Auto Theft Task Force and the many police departments across New Jersey who provided investigative assistance and support.

The following agencies contribute detectives and officers to the New Jersey State Police MVCNU Auto Theft Task Force:

  • New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice
  • Bernards Township Police Department
  • Clifton Police Department
  • Middletown Township Police Department
  • Paramus Police Department
  • Warren Township Police Department
  • Westfield Township Police Department.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense Attorneys

For Smith: Ilene McFarland, Esq.
For Peppers: Dakota Kuykendall, Esq.
For Green: Susan C. Cassell, Esq.
For Harris: Husain A. Gatlin, Esq.
For Pollard-Raines: Michael J. Maher, Esq.
For Copeland: Undetermined

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