On May 18, a man named Reynaldo Nazario got out of prison, having spent 9 of the last 10 years locked away on a series of convictions relating to auto theft.
Within a few weeks, prosecutors said, he went to work.
On Aug. 9, according to a criminal complaint, Mr. Nazario, 35, showed up at an auto graveyard in the shadow of Interstate-95 in the Bronx with a 1997 Honda Accord that he had stolen elsewhere in the borough, claimed to be its owner, and sold it for scrap for $350.
Two days later, the complaint says, he did the same with a 1995 Accord.
On Aug. 21, the complaint says, Mr. Nazario scrapped two m ore mid-1990s Accords, and two days after that, an Accord and a Toyota Camry.
And so on and so on, according to the complaint. For more than two months, if the authorities are to be believed, Mr. Nazario operated a one-man auto-theft ring.
On the morning of Oct. 23, the authorities said, he took in a 1994 Accord â” the most-stolen car in America â” was paid his $350 and placed under arrest.
He had sold to the scrap yard, according to the authorities, 30 stolen cars in the span of 75 days, or an average of one every 60 hours.
The scrapyard, New England Auto Parts on Boston Road in Eastchester, had been cooperating in an undercover investigation run by the police, the Bronx district attorney’s office said. Some of the cars were returned to their owners, the office said; it was not immediately clear what happened to the rest.
On Friday, the district attorney’s office announced that Mr. Nazario, of West 182nd Street in University Heights in the Bronx, had been indicted on charges of 26 of the thefts. The other four cases are still being heard by the grand jury, officials said.
Looking at the list of thefts attributed to Mr. Nazario, patterns emerge. All of the cars were from the 1990s. Twenty-six of them were Honda Accords. Three were Nissans, and one was a Toyota. The longest Mr. Nazario went without taking in a stolen car, the complaint says, was 10 days. In the three days of Oct. 10 to Oct. 12, he took in six cars, the complaint said.
He is charged with 26 felony counts of grand larceny, 26 counts of criminal possession of stolen property and 26 counts of falsifying business records. If found guilty and given consecutive terms, he could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.
So far, though, Mr. Nazario’s stretches have been shorter, according to the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. He served 15 months starting in 2002 for unauthoriz ed use of a 1987 Toyota Camry; two years and 10 months for an assault that involved hitting several police officers with a stolen car, crushing one of the officers against another car; two years for criminal possession of a stolen 1995 Accord; 10 months on a parole violation; and two years one month for stealing a 1997 Honda.
At New England Auto Parts, located on a desolate cul-de-sac behind a barbed-wire-topped fence across from a forlorn-looking copse of bare trees and down the block from a bowling alley, employees said they had been instructed by their boss not to speak to the news media.
Matthew Wolfe contributed reporting.
Criminal Complaint Nazario, Reynaldo (PDF)
Criminal Complaint Nazario, Reynaldo (Text)