$8M Vehicle Theft Ring Busted in Michigan

In many cases, the stolen cars were sold to buyers who then used them to commit other crimes.


Michigan authorities announced the arrests of six members of an alleged car theft ring responsible for stealing more than 400 vehicles worth about $8 million in Southeast Michigan.

The alleged ring targeted new vehicle lots at manufacturing facilities, dealerships, parking lots and residential areas. The vehicles were then sold, well below market value, to buyers who wanted unregistered vehicles. Those vehicles have been linked to several crimes, including armed robberies, weapons offenses, felony evasion of police, car-jackings, murder and attempted murder. Authorities believe the group uses countersurveillance to steal vehicles quickly and efficiently, allegedly shooting at officers and ramming security vehicles if confronted.

More than 200 officers from state, federal and local agencies were involved in executing eight arrest warrants May 15, which led to the recovery of seven vehicles, numerous car parts, electronic key fobs and nine firearms. This operation also involved the seizure of stolen dealership plates and various burglary tools.

Each defendant has been charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and use of a computer to commit a crime, both 20-year felonies, and multiple counts of receiving and concealing a stolen vehicle.

Those charged include Kevin Stevenson Jr., 21, of Detroit; Joseph Doyle, 25, of Onsted; Braylen Green, 20, of Wixom; Dejhon Bush, 20, of Detroit; Zamarr Johnson, 18, of Troy, also charged with two counts of fourth-degree fleeing or eluding; and Desmond Wilson, 21, of Detroit, also charged with one count of breaking and entering with intent.

Authorities are still looking for two additional suspects who were not named. They are also working to establish cases against other members of the auto theft ring and buyers of the stolen vehicles.

The arrests were the culmination of a collaboration between the Troy Police Department, which began looking into the crime ring in August 2023, and the FORCE Team, which joined the investigation early this year.

“I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by my staff and all of the participating agencies to arrest and prosecute these violent and reckless criminals,” said Troy Police Chief Frank Nastasi.

“The activities of criminal organizations like these go far beyond theft,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “They cause millions in financial losses to our retail partners, sow fear and endanger lives. Vehicles stolen as part of this criminal enterprise go on to become tools in violence, posing additional threats to public safety. I commend the hard work of the FORCE Team, Troy Police Department, and other local law enforcement agencies to investigate and dismantle this operation.”

Rod Alberts, co-executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, said he has never seen such bold and brazen thefts from car dealerships in his 30-plus years in the industry.

"This has become an epidemic of organized criminals preying on businesses in our communities and putting law enforcement and the general public in harm’s way, not just during the theft itself, but on the streets after they have stolen the vehicles," Alberts said. "I want to thank the attorney general and her staff for the steps and actions they have taken. It will make a difference.”

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