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02/27/2013

21 arrested in Tacoma-area theft crackdown

Multi-agency 'storefront' sting nets guns, stolen cars and property

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Authorities arrested 21 suspects Tuesday following a sting by the Auto Crimes Enforcement (ACE) Task Force, which includes special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The storefront sting, dubbed "Operation Shiny Penny," recovered 16 guns, including two assault weapons and 26 stolen vehicles. Over the past six months, investigators made in excess of 30 undercover purchases from local criminals through their Pierce County storefront location. The Task Force ultimately identified 26 suspects, made 21 arrests, and recovered more than $250,000 in stolen property.

Operation Shiny Penny is a part of a long-term undercover investigation into property crimes in Pierce County and across Washington State, such as auto theft, firearms violations, residential burglary and fraud. In addition to HSI, the ACE Task Force agencies participating in the operation include the Lakewood, Tacoma, Puyallup, and Fife police departments; the Pierce County Sheriff's Department; the Washington State Patrol; the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office; the National Insurance Crime Bureau; and the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.