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A group of six Bronx thieves linked to more than 200 burglaries and 50 vehicle heists, notorious for their high-speed getaways, helped incriminate themselves by flaunting stolen cars and piles of cash on social media, authorities announced Friday.
The crew stole cellphones, merchandise and cash collectively valued at $3 million, including at least 54 vehicles, between June 2020 and July 2021, according to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut.
Willie Baines, 47, Josepher Cartagena, 27, Brandon Collazo-Rivera, 26, Justin Herrera, 23, Douglas Noble, 29, and Alexander Santiago, 28, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Court on Aug. 3 to crimes connected to burglaries across 11 New York counties in the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, and face charges for more crimes in Connecticut and New Jersey.
The six men were charged with various counts of grand larceny and burglary, and they all pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison, James’ office said on Friday.
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Six Bronx men – Willie Baines, Josepher Cartagena, Brandon Collazo-Rivera, Justin Herrera, Douglas Noble and Alexander Santiago – were convicted of charges relating to more than 200 smash-and-grab burglaries last Friday. One of the six men is pictured flaunting stolen cash in a social media post. (New York Attorney General Letitia James)
“The six individuals convicted and sentenced went on a crime spree that impacted businesses and residents throughout downstate New York,” James wrote in a press release. “These burglars left a trail of broken glass, smashed businesses, and dangerous high-speed chases in their wake. I thank my partners in local law enforcement for their coordination and support as we took down this dangerous crew. Our communities are safer now that these six individuals have been brought to justice.”
Surveillance footage, license plate readers and cellphone data tied the six men to the burglaries – and social media posts, often uploaded just minutes after the crimes, helped police connect specific stolen items to each of the six men, James’ office said.
Santiago and Cartagena would plan the burglary sprees, authorities said, and recruited the others. Then, the two organizers would inventory the stolen goods, oversee their sale and divide earnings among the participants.
Crew members would travel to neighborhoods with several car dealerships and cellphone stores, James said, often hitting multiple stores in the span of several hours.
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A tally found on one of the six men’s phones indicated that he had led police on 89 high-speed chases. At least 54 vehicles were stolen by the Bronx crew. (New York Attorney General Letitia James)
At car dealerships, the thieves would smash large windows at the front of the building, locate key fobs inside and drive the vehicles they were able to start out of the broken windows.
Perhaps taking inspiration from the Fast & Furious franchise, they would often wait for law enforcement to respond so they could lead them on dangerous high-speed chases through residential neighborhoods, James’ office said.
In their cellphone, video game and ATM store burglaries, members of the gang would allegedly smash glass front doors and steal as much merchandise and cash as they could carry.
Baines was first arrested by New York City police on Dec. 22, 2020, after a high-speed pursuit in a stolen vehicle followed by a chase on foot, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said. While out on bail, the office said, he continued to burglarize businesses – he has been detained since March 2021.
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Investigators relied on surveillance video, license plate readers, cellphone data and brazen social media posts to build a case against the gang. (New York Attorney General Letitia James)
Cartagena was arrested the next day, on Dec. 23, 2020, after multiple high-speed chases that included collisions with police cars, dropping a 9mm handgun and burglary tools in the pursuit. Police uncovered more than 30 vehicle key fobs and approximately $87,000 in cash.
Santiago’s pit bull attacked and badly injured an FBI agent when he was arrested on Jan. 15, 2021 – investigators found approximately 20 new cellphones, at least 40 vehicle key fobs, a police radio, a glass punch device, two firearms and a substantial amount of ammunition in his home.
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An apparent tally found on Santiago’s phone indicated that he had led police on 89 high-speed chases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said.
Christina Coulter is a U.S. and World reporter for Fox News Digital. Email story tips to [email protected].