Stolen cars destined for overseas stopped at Baltimore’s Port
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Stolen cars, weapons and ammunition. For years criminals have attempted to use Baltimore’s Port to smuggle items overseas.
Now, Customs and Border Protection is seeing a new trend emerging; an increase in stolen cars. Specifically, high-end/luxury vehicles.
“There’s a good chance if your car is stolen here in Baltimore we’re going to get it here before it gets out of the country,” said Adam Rottman, area port director, Customs and Border Protection.
City statistics show more than 2,000 cars have been stolen in Baltimore so far in 2018, and more than 200 by force.
Not all stolen cars end up at Baltimore’s Port but some do and according to Customs, the agency is seeing an increase.
Workers have discovered more than 72 stolen vehicles so far in 2018, according to Customs and Border Protection. That’s more than any other year in nearly a decade.
Fox 45 shadowed the agency to capture the Port’s first line of defense.
Workers x-ray the large containers vehicles are shipped overseas in, while making sure the documents match what’s inside the unit.
“It’s like an airport baggage machine, but larger,” described Rottman. “If it’s manifested as four cars and we scan it and see five cars, obviously we’re going to have to look inside that container.”
Rottman stood by as workers opened a container packed in greater Baltimore and destined for Africa.
“Here we have a Can-am, two slingshot automobiles and two cars,” said Rottman, standing inside the shipping container.
Minutes later, he and workers determined all had been reported stolen.
“All stolen,” confirmed Rottman. “About $200,000 in stolen goods.”
Next, a 2018 Mercedes E-300, and 2018 Ford F-150 pick-up truck.
Both were also destined for Africa. But, a check of the database showed both had also been reported stolen.
Rottman believes opportunity and demand is contributing to the increase in stolen high-end vehicles ending up at Baltimore’s Port.
“It may be what they’re looking for at the locations where they’re delivering overseas,” suggested Rottman.
Rottman pointed out stopping this transaction is bigger than Baltimore and the Port.
“The profits transnational criminal organizations are making from stolen automobiles support terrorism groups,” said Rottman. “It really makes a difference when we can disrupt their profit flow.”
Customs stressed protecting Baltimorean’s vehicles, time and money is also priority.
“When someone gets their car stolen there is an emotional process they often go through, as well as the financial aspect. Insurance premiums to up,” explained Rottman. “We’re part of this community. We really take pride in this community. It’s really important to us that we protect our families and protect our neighbors.”
Customs was unable to comment further on specific cases mentioned so as to not jeopardize any investigations.
The MDOT Maryland Port Administration has applauded CBP in identifying and recovering vehicles stolen in Maryland and surrounding jurisdictions.
MDOT Maryland Port Administration Director of Communications Richard Scher released the following statement,
“To be clear, these vehicles were not stolen from the Port of Baltimore. We value all of our relationships with our federal partners and regularly exchange information and review policy and procedures to maintain a safe and secure port. “