3 charged in Gulf Coast vehicle theft ring

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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - Three people have been arrested in a string of motor vehicle thefts along the Gulf Coast, including several disabled vehicles along Interstate 10 and some from park-and-ride lots in St. Martin and Gautier.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Smith said Brittany Leah Griffith, Austin Colby Allen and Kenneth Allen, Austin Allen’s younger brother, all of Vancleave, are jailed on vehicle theft charges.

The Mississippi Press reports (http://bit.ly/1meLi2W ) vehicle theft carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison on conviction.

Smith said they have been linked to as many as 30 vehicle thefts across the coast.

Smith said the stolen vehicles were taken to a coastal scrap metal dealer - generally on the same day. Investigators declined to identify the dealer.

Smith said the investigation began in January when they received a string of reports of vehicles taken along Interstate 10.

Investigators said the group would ride along I-10 from Harrison County to Moss Point looking for vehicles left on the side of the road.

In April, investigators began getting reports of thefts at the Park-N-Ride in St. Martin.

Smith said further investigation determined Griffith aided in the theft and disposal of some of the vehicles from the park-and-ride.

Sheriff’s Lt. Randy Muffley said scrap yards are required to go through certain protocols when accepting vehicles. If the vehicle is 10 years are newer, the customer must have the title for them to scrap it. If the vehicle is older than 10 years, the customer must have an affidavit stating they are the owner of the vehicle.

Muffley said all the vehicles taken were more than 10 years old.

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Information from: The Mississippi Press, http://www.gulflive.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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