Soldier arrested for involvement in Arab car theft ring

A 20-year-old woman soldier has been arrested for allegedly being part of an Arab car theft ring which stole scores of private vehicles across the country, police said Monday. The suspect, Tamar Marton of Jerusalem, is suspected of aiding a group of 12 east Jerusalem Arabs who allegedly stole dozens of private vehicles from the capital and other major Israeli cities over the last year, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. The ring was broken up by police this week after a six-month long investigation. The 12 Arab suspects, all in their 20s, allegedly sold the vehicles to a Palestinian chop shop near Ramallah for NIS 1000-4000 each. Nine of the key Arab suspects in the case have been remanded in custody through the duration of legal proceedings against them. The police investigation, which began about six months ago after "intelligence information" revealed that the off-duty soldier would lead the entourage of stolen cars through city streets and would warn the suspected car thieves by her cellphone if there were any police checkpoints in the area, Jerusalem police investigator Asher Lizmy said. The soldier, who has since been discharged from the army, would receive several hundred shekels for each job for her services, the police said. According to police, the thieves would steal about three to four cars about twice a week. During her interrogation, Marton confessed to the allegations against her, but said that she stopped working with the ring about six months ago, Lizmy said. Reached by telephone on Monday, Marton refused to comment, and then hung up. The police investigator said he was not completely surprised by the involvement of the Jewish soldier in the ring, adding that the girlfriend of the chief Arab suspect was also Jewish. "It is really hard to be surprised anymore," Lizmy said," although it is not a normal thing that a female soldier gets connected with a group of Arab criminals." All the suspects in the case are expected to be indicted next month. Many of them have past criminal records, police said. According to police statistics, the number of car thefts in Jerusalem dropped last year by seven percent compared to the year before. In all, 4,969 vehicles were stolen last year in Jerusalem compared to 5,343 in 2006.