Traffic stop leads to discovery of multi-state car theft scheme

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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. — A speeding stop led to the discovery of a multi-million dollar car theft ring, based out of Illinois, according to the Berrien Springs Police.

The incident happened back in late July, when an officer pulled the suspect over for speeding. Police say the driver, identified as Paul A. Abbott of Evanston, Ill., was not able to produce proper paperwork for the car he was driving.

The officer then requested that a drug dog be brought to the scene, at which time Abbott took off, resulting in a pursuit topping 100 miles per hour, until Abbott pulled over again.

Police think that Abbott was throwing out contraband during the chase, but they weren’t able to recover any of it. Abbott was arrested, and a drug dog alerted police to an empty satchel in the car.

The vehicle was checked later by another dog, which also alerted police to the satchel. Police then thoroughly searched the car for hidden drugs but didn’t find any. However, it was discovered at this time that the VIN on the dashboard didn’t match with another VIN elsewhere on the car.

According to investigators, the car came back as being owned by a dealership out of Ill. when they checked the dashboard VIN. Police contacted the dealership and discovered the owner of the dealership was driving an identical car with the same VIN.

The hidden VIN revealed that the car was reported stolen from the dealership back in May.

Police say that Abbott came back to Berrien Springs multiple times during the investigation with fake documents showing he was the owner of the car.

After investigating further, police say that the car was part of a multi-million dollar car theft scheme that made fake VIN plates to place on identical cars and then sell. The case is under investigation currently by several federal and state agencies.

Abbott is currently a wanted fugitive and has multiple warrants for his alleged involvement in the theft ring.

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