(it's behind a paywall so this is cut & paste)
A brazen band of thieves who stole motorcycles off New York City streets and engaged in the illegal sale of guns and stolen cars was broken up Thursday with the arrest of 33 people, officials said.
Some of the defendants knew they were under investigation and had engaged in counter-surveillance, taking pictures of vehicles they thought were being used by undercover officers, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference Thursday in Manhattan.
The thieves stole at least 63 high-end motorcycles, mostly off the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, resold them locally or dismantled them and shipped them under the guise of household goods to the Caribbean and Africa, Kelly and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said.
Most of the defendants live in Brooklyn. Others live in Queens, one lives in Elmont, one in Trinidad and one in St. Lucia.
The investigation began about 17 months ago with the theft of a Yamaha motorcycle in TriBeCa, Kelly said. But officials said they later learned that the criminal enterprise had been running for five years before that.
During the course of the investigation, some of the suspects began buying guns in Virgina and other Southern states and reselling them on the streets of the city at immense profits. Officials said an assault rifle purchased for $300 was resold for $1,700.
Some of the guns were on display at the news conference, along with brightly colored motorcycles. The thieves specialized in high-end bikes, such as Ducati and BMW models, officials said.