Auto Unit

Members of the Auto Unit are experts in the field of vehicle identification, document fraud and the investigation of organized criminal groups involved in such activity.

Auto Unit members are involved in numerous professional organizations, such as the Vehicle Theft Investigators Association of New Jersey and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.

Unit members lecture at various police academies throughout the state to educate local, county, state, and federal law enforcement officers in the latest auto theft and document fraud methods and current detection techniques. Members are often called upon to provide technical information to auto theft detectives in the field and other agencies requesting assistance with vehicle theft investigations.

Auto Theft and Identification:

Detectives investigate organized criminal groups responsible for the theft of trucks, construction equipment, marine vessels and private automobiles for profit. Members are considered experts in the field of vehicle identification and the detection of vehicles with altered identification numbers. They must be skilled in the use of heat or acid restoration to expose obliterated vehicle identification numbers. Unit detectives target "chop shop" operations where stolen vehicles are disassembled for parts or altered/disguised for resale. Detectives also pursue organized insurance fraud conspiracies, whereby, vehicle owners defraud their insurance carriers by fraudulently reporting their vehicles stolen to collect total loss theft claims. Members are often called upon to provide assistance to federal, state, and local agencies in all vehicle theft investigations, and liaison with international, national, and state auto theft members involved in complex investigations.

Document Fraud:

Detectives work closely with New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission investigators to identify and arrest individuals who attempt to conduct illegal activity at Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies. Mmembers are considered experts in the field of document authentication and the detection of counterfeit documents. One of their primary goals is to ensure the integrity of MVC issued identification documents with an emphasis on organized driver's license brokerage rings. These rings employ a variety of illegal measures, including bribing MVC employees, to obtain authentic New Jersey driver's licenses for individuals not legally entitled to receive them. Many customers of the brokerage rings obtain licenses in fictitious identities, which in turn can foster other criminal activity, such as terrorism and identity theft.

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips:

  • Ensure your vehicle is always locked.
  • Never leave a window open.
  • Ensure all valuables are kept out of sight.
  • Never leave your vehicle running.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle.
  • When parking, turn the tires toward the curb. This will make it difficult to tow.
  • Always use your emergency brake.
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lighted area.
  • Try to park your vehicle in attended lots. Criminals DO NOT like witnesses.
  • When parking your vehicle in an attended lot, always use your valet key.
  • Never Leave the title or registration in your vehicle when it is unattended. A thief will use these documents to assist in selling your vehicle.
  • Disable your vehicle when leaving for extended periods of time, i.e., disconnect the battery.
  • Use locking screws on your license plate.
  • Whenever possible, use all available ant-theft devices to include:
    • Steering wheel locks
    • Window etching
    • Vehicle tracking devices, i.e., LoJack
    • Audible alarms
    • Armored collars around steering columns
    • Devices to disable the gas or brake pedal
    • Wheel locks
    • Gear shift locks
    • Hood locks
    • Fuel kill switches
    • Ignition kill switches

Tips On Car Purchases:

  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always verify the vehicle identification number on the title matches the vehicle identification number on the vehicle.
  • Ensure the vehicle identification number in the window has original rivets, is free from scratches, has not been recently painted, and the numbers all appear consistent.
  • Compare the window vehicle identification number located on the driver’s side front windshield, against the vehicle identification number on the federal safety inspection sticker on the driver’s side door.

Car Purchase Tips

  • Compare the window vehicle identification number located on the driver’s side front windshield, against the vehicle identification number on the federal safety inspection sticker on the driver’s side door.
  • Ensure the federal safety inspection sticker is secure and appears undisturbed.
  • Check the ignition for any type of tampering.
  • Question a new paint job.
  • Be suspicious if the seller does not provide any factory manufactured keys.
  • If purchasing a vehicle from a private citizen, always verify the name and address on the title match the name and address of the seller.
  • Ask to view the seller’s driver’s license and compare the name and address on the title and registration.
  • Be cautious of anyone that does not provide an address or contact information.
  • Ask the seller for references.
  • Purchase a vehicle history report from a private vendor in order to obtain the vehicle history and mileage comparisons. Often, these reports come with a money back guarantee.

Questions & Answers

A1:The Auto Unit does not conduct identity theft investigations. The Auto Unit is responsible for document fraud investigations. If you are a victim of identity theft, contact your local police department. Obtain a report number from the police department, so you can begin contacting credit bureaus, financial institutions, or affected agencies. You can obtain detailed identity theft information from the following site:

A2: Contact your local police department as soon as possible and make a report. When reporting the vehicle as stolen, you will need to supply the vehicle identification number, sometimes referred to as the VIN. After you have made the police report, contact your insurance company.

Q3: Contact the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission with your question. They can be contacted at:

Q4: Any law enforcement agency in the state, including the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Specialty Sites, can perform this service. There are three MVC sites and they are:

Winslow Township Salvage Inspection Site
250 Spring Garden Road Ancora, New Jersey 08037
Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Office: 609-567-0190

Asbury Park Salvage Inspection Site
1010 Comstock Street Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712
Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Office: 732-869-8333

Westfield Salvage Inspection Site
410 South Avenue Westfield New Jersey 07090
Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Office: 908-232-6394

Q5: You need six (6) points of identification. The appropriate identifications and the values can be obtained from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website.

Auto Theft and Document Fraud Crimes and Statutes:

  • 2C:5-6 Motor Vehicle Master Keys
  • 2C:20-2.1 Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft or Unlawful Taking
  • 2C:20-2.2 Additional Fine for Auto Theft
  • 2C:20-7.1 Fencing
  • 2C:20-16 Operation of Facility for Sale of Stolen Automobile or Parts
  • 2C:20-17 Use of Juvenile in Theft of Automobiles
  • 2C:20-18 Leader of Auto Theft Trafficking Network
  • 2C:21-2.3 Simulating a Motor Vehicle Insurance Identification Card
  • 2C:21-4.8 Motor Vehicle Title Offenses
  • 2C:21-8 Misrepresentation of Mileage of Motor Vehicle
  • 2C:21-17 Impersonation; Theft of Identity
  • 2C:21-17.1 Restitution to Victim of Unlawful Use of Personal Identifying Information
  • 2C:21-17.2 Use of Personal Identifying Information of Another, Certain
  • 2C:21-17.3 Trafficking Personal Identifying Information Pertaining to Another Person
  • 2C:30-2 Official Misconduct
  • 2C:30-7 Crime Pattern of Official Misconduct

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