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Los Angeles: In May 2008, the Los Angeles Police Department Van Nuys Area began to experience a high volume of thefts of tires and rims from newer model Mercedes Benz and BMWs. The tires and rims were being stolen during the early morning hours.
As the crime trend continued, the suspects and their vehicles were eventually captured on video surveillance cameras. The photographs from the video surveillance cameras were used on an Internal Crime Alert Notification which was distributed Citywide. It was determined that the crimes were occurring in four Geographic Divisions: Van Nuys Division, North Hollywood Division, West Valley Division and Pacific Division.
Van Nuys Auto Detectives notified Community Efforts to Combat Auto Theft Unit, (CECAT). On Thursday, August 7, 2008, CECAT’s officers observed suspects’ vehicles in the area of Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard. When suspects exited their vehicles, the officers recognized them from the photographs captured on the surveillance cameras. The suspects were taken into custody without incident.
The suspects were identified as 18-year- old Vasiliy Polyak and 20-year- old Arsen Ovsepyan of North Hollywood. Both suspects were booked for burglary. The video surveillance photographs were an integral part of identifying the suspects.
The arrest resulted in several search warrants being served and over 100 tires and rims being recovered. The tires and rims were being sold on Craig’s List and after being purchased from Craig’s List were being sold again on eBay. It is imperative to know that when purchasing items on-line, if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good and is possibly a stolen item.
Further investigation revealed that Polyak and Ovsepyan were also randomly targeting the cities of Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica.
On Monday, August 11, 2008, the District Attorney’s office filed 18 counts of burglary and grand theft on Polyak and Ovsepyan.
CECAT is a multi-agency auto theft taskforce comprised of detectives and officers from LAPD, California Highway Patrol (CHP), Department of Motor Vehicles and National Insurance Crime Bureau. CECAT’s primary mission is the reduction of auto theft and auto related crimes in the San Fernando Valley.
Anyone with additional information regarding these crimes or who may have been a victim is encouraged to contact Van Nuys Detective Stilz and Detective Juarez at 818-374-0020. On weekends or during off-hours, contact the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (529-3855).