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Regional Undercover Operation Concluded

Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority’s (WATPA) Auto Crimes Enforcement Task Force finishes up six month investigation with multiple arrests

On February 26th, 2013 officers and detectives from the Auto Crimes Enforcement (ACE) Task Force and other assisting agencies in Pierce County served a series of search warrants upon five residences and several vehicles in Pierce and Thurston Counties. This combined effort was the result of a long term undercover investigation involving ongoing property crimes in Pierce County and across Washington State which included auto theft, firearms violations, residential burglary and fraud. The operation, dubbed “Shiny Penny”, involved a six month undercover store front investigation in Pierce County in which detectives purchased stolen property from local criminals.

Regional resources utilized during service of these warrants included the following SWAT Teams: Pierce County METRO SWAT, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department SWAT and Thurston County Sheriff’s Department SWAT.

The ACE Task Force agencies involved in this undercover operation included the Lakewood Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Tacoma Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, Puyallup Police Department, Fife Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, National Insurance Crime Bureau and Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

Operation “Shiny Penny” has produced the following results

  • 26 total suspects identified for felony crimes
  • 21 suspects currently in custody. A number of those were arraigned in Superior Court on 02-27-13.
  • 26 stolen cars recovered. Overall value $250,000 plus.
  • 16 firearms recovered which includes two assault rifles.
  • 4 narcotics violations.
  • 11 other property items recovered that included items such as televisions and laptops.
  • 34 total undercover transactions completed by detectives.

This is the third undercover operation conducted by the ACE Task Force in the last two years. All of these operations resulted in a significant number of stolen cars recovered and suspects arrested. The operation was funded by participating agencies and the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority. The ACE Task Force is dedicated to the pursuit of career criminals committing crimes against persons and property in the greater Pierce County region.

The task force is planning on returning stolen cars and property to victims on March 6th. We will be providing more details on this to allow the media to be on scene to film the event and possibly interview victims.

Please contact Lt. Chris Lawler for additional information.

Lt. Lawler can be contacted at the numbers listed below for more information;
Office (253) 830-5011
Cellular (253) 606-6981
Fax (253) 830-5069