AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Vladimir Antonov, the Russian “businessman” who attempted to buy Saab earlier in the year, has been arrested in England over charges of involvement in a massive money laundering scheme in Lithuania.
Antonov, owner of Portsmouth F.C. (a British soccer team) and his partner Raimondas Baranauskas, were released on bail and ordered to surrender their passports. Both are due to be extradited to Lithuania, where authorities say the two embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from Lithuanian bank Snoras.
Antonov previously tried to buy Saab, but his attempts to purchase it were disrupted by creditors and other parties, amid allegations of financial impropriety.
[Source: The Bellingham Herald]
A Michigan man, David Allan Proffitt, has been sent to jail in Texas after he was accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from an Ann Arbor, MI Lexus dealership.
According to police investigating the case, Proffitt, who was General Manager of the dealership, wrote more than 100 checks out to people, claiming they were dealer customers who needed refunds. Proffitt forged the signatures on each of the checks he wrote and deposited them into personal bank accounts, most of the transactions occurred over an almost three-year period between April 2008 and February 2011.
In addition, some of the money Proffitt stole was apparently used to pay a dealership employee’s rent, in order to keep him working there. Last Thursday, authorities arrested and charged Proffitt in Plano, Texas. A court appearance has yet to be scheduled.
[Source: Ann Arbor.com]
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its Hot Wheels report today, listing the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examins vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center to determine the most reported stolen cars.
Domestic vehicles have become more popular to thieves over their import counterparts on the list for the first time since 2002. The 1999 Chevrolet Silverado Pickup and 1997 Ford F-150 broke into the top five which was the most astonishing news because these places are usually held by small Japanese cars. The most stolen vehicles in the United States for 2010 include:
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1995 Honda Civic
- 1991 Toyota Camry
- 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
- 1997 Ford F150 Series/Pickup
- 2004 Dodge Ram
- 2000 Dodge Caravan
- 1994 Acura Integra
- 2002 Ford Explorer
- 1999 Ford Taurus
The good news is that overall, vehicle thefts are on a downward trend. Initial 2010 FBI crime statistics point to a 7.2 percent reduction over the thefts posted in 2009. If these numbers stay their course when the FBI produces the final statistics later this year, 2010 will post the fewest vehicle thefts since 1967.
This 22-year old kid thought he could get away with grand theft auto, but little did he learn that crime doesn’t pay!
Apologies to the esteemed Sheriff John Bunnell, but he would have had a field day with Justin William Durbin, who went on a stealing spree with Mercedes and Bentley cars that spanned four states and across the country.
Durbin started his illustrious career by taking a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL550 on a test drive from an Illinois dealership. When he didn’t return, the manhunt began: Durbin went to Missouri, taking a GLK from a dealership with the same tactic. His most recent caper saw him escaping Florida with a 2007 Bentley and high-tailing it to Louisiana, crashing it and forcing police to embark on a six-hour manhunt.
Rather fittingly, the license plate on the Bentley said, “CALL 911.”
The “Bentley Bandit” is now being held on traffic violations, aggravated flight, possession of a stolen license plate, and held without bond as a fugitive. He is wanted in wanted in six other states on charges including probation violation, grand theft auto, larceny, burglary, fraud, and tying fair maidens to train tracks while twirling a mustache.
[Sources: Chicago Tribune]
One of OnStar’s advertising points is the reassurance that if your car gets stolen, it can not only track where it ends up, but also deactivate it instantly. Turns out, it’s not just a load of advertising malarky.
Four Chevrolet Camaro coupes were stolen from a dealership in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early hours of Monday. Police were able to track the vehicles based on their OnStar information from the dealership, and quickly arrested the suspects. One of the cars was silver, the other yellow, and all had temporary plates.
Then again, a chain of speeding Camaros at four in the morning isn’t exactly subtle. Witnesses saw the procession and reported it into police, who were able to provide OnStar with their latest round of marketing success.
A man in Sydney, Australia nearly got away with a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer—if he hadn’t left his driver’s license behind. D’oh!
Snidely Whiplash here had his license photocopied by the sales manager prior to driving the 2007 Lancer with a salesman. On the road, the salesman pulled over to allow the man to take the wheel, and when the man got in, he locked the doors so the salesman couldn’t get back in the car, and took off. The finest detective minds were called to track down the infamous criminal mastermind: they drove to the address listed on his license, where the stolen car was parked right in the driveway.
Police arrested the man with assault, intent to take and drive a vehicle, and criminal hilarity.
[Source: Sydney Morning Herald]
Police in Seattle, Washington are using Twitter to help fight auto theft by making it easier to publicly broadcast stolen vehicle reports, and allowing citizens to keep an eye out for the cars in question.
The account, imaginatively titled “Get Your Car Back”, will allow 911 operators to enter the vehicles details and location into a twitter post, that will be immediately broadcast to the account’s followers. Stolen cars that have been recovered will not be tweeted, however.
“I believe that this program will integrate seamlessly into our strategy to prevent and reduce auto theft in Seattle,” said Police Chief John Diaz. “It will also serve to increase public awareness on the subject.”
[Source: Seattle PD via the New York Times]
Formula 1 evil villain head honcho Bernie Ecclestone was injured after a mugging that took place outside his London home. Ecclestone suffered a head injury after being kicked and punched on Wednesday night. The muggers made off with jewelery and watches.
One police source said that he was confident that Ecclestone was specifically targeted due to his high profile and immense wealth. Ecclestone has previously had the wheels of his Mercedes-Benz stolen from outside his London home.
A man in East St. Louis, Illinois, went on a shooting rampage, armed only with an AK-47, a Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible and his birthday suit. The PT Cruiser ended up rolled over after the thief crashed it and used it as cover while he fired at police officers attempting to arrest him.
While harming civillians and law enforcement officials is totally reprehensible, this might be the most badass action ever committed with a PT Cruiser. The PT Cruiser’s distant relative, the Chrysler Lebaron convertible, also had a bit of urban noteriety when Eazy-E commandeered one in the “Straight Outta Compton” video.
Video after the jump.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released their list of the top 10 stolen cars for 2009 , and the perenial favorites, the Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry are in the Top 10 yet again, taking the top 3 spots respectively.
The trade in spare parts, and in the Honda’s case, engines, make them valuable commodities, and the cars are also desirable for export to Third World countries. Pick-up trucks were also in demand, as each of the Big Three’s brands were represented, as well as the Ford Explorer.
The good news is that car thefts are down 17.1 percent, and have been declining for the past 6 years.