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Ford Econoline vans are great for business — if you business is crime,

Police say the popular vans, which had a consistent design for nearly a decade and are used by many local livery drivers, are the target of thieves looking to steal the vehicles and pawn their in-demand parts.

That creates an interesting market, which has been noticed by local cops.

“We’re seeing a lot of old dollar vans with brand-new grills,” said Dep. Inspector Corey Pegues, commanding officer of the 67th Precinct.

To help solve the problem, Pegues says he’s reaching out to dollar van owners.

“We would like to see if they are willing to install police vehicle identification numbers on the grills and other parts,” he said.

This way if the dollar van with the identified part gets stolen, police would then have an easier time identifying stolen parts.

Dollar van owner Winston Williams, who, in fact, has a new grill on his Econoline, said he isn’t sure if he would put an identification number on it.

“I buy my parts at a junkyard,” he said, adding many dollar van drivers add new parts because it helps business.

But even the etchings won’t solve the other nefarious activity Econolines are being used for.

“They are also taking these vans to put stolen motorcycles in the back,” said Pegues. “We’ve debriefed prisoners who have told us they are doing it, and in the last 30 days we’ve had a witness say they saw a van pull up and take a motorcycle on the street.”

Pegues said besides Econolines, a lot of Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys are being stolen in the precinct.

“We’re setting up checkpoints to stop any of these vehicles that violate traffic laws,” said Pegues. “So if you have any of these cars and commit a violation there is a high probability you will be stopped.”

Pegues also recommended residents park there cars and/or motorcycles in a driveway or garage if possible. He also recommended parking in well-lit areas and getting alarms.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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