Stolen Vehicles for Export: A Major Concern for Domestic and International Security
The following is a Masters thesis by Mark C. Mac Donnell, Sergeant, Supervisor Detective Squad, New York City Police Department, titled "Stolen Vehicles for Export: A Major Concern for Domestic and International Security." The thesis was submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense) from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, in March 2018.
Although our federal, state, and local governments in the United States have developed effective laws and policies to reduce the number of motor vehicles stolen, these policies have largely failed to address the problem of the number of vehicles that are stolen and exported each year. There is increasing evidence that there are links between organized crime groups and terrorist organizations in the stolen-vehicle export business. This thesis uses the case study of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) efforts to curb illegal exportation of stolen vehicles to explore the scope of the problem at one of our nation’s largest ports (the Port of New York and New Jersey). The key question that framed this research was: Do these policy insights from the NYPD case study point to more general policy changes that would make it more difficult for criminal enterprises to export stolen vehicles? This research suggests a number of national policy changes would positively impact the illegal exporter advantage. These policy changes would provide more consistency in titling of motor vehicles, increase inspections of exports, and enhance enforcement capabilities. Unfortunately, this thesis was unable to establish a clear link between stolen vehicle exports, organized crime, and terrorist use of these stolen vehicles. Even so, data on this topic is scarce, but there is enough to suggest that further research into other case studies could develop data to shed more light on a possible connection. In any case, the findings of this thesis indicate more research would be worthwhile, as the stolen vehicle market is the most lucrative illicit market behind the drug market, and a better understanding could only benefit law enforcement’s efforts to counter it.
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