Brothers arrested

in auto-theft ring

* Creston Street near Castor Avenue

Two brothers who allegedly stole and stripped more than 80 cars were arrested yesterday morning in Oxford Circle after a five-month police investigation, the Major Crimes Unit announced.

Alexander Ramos, 36, and his brother Eduardo, 30, each face 71 counts of auto theft, criminal mischief and conspiracy charges, among others, said Capt. Leonard Ditchkofsky, commanding officer of the unit.

The accused brothers targeted Hondas and stole them from nearly every neighborhood in the city, police said.

The brothers stripped the cars of their catalytic converters, batteries and radios before abandoning them in Frankford, Ditchkofsky said.

Hondas are known for being relatively easy to steal, and the Ramos brothers stole four of them Monday night, police said.

"We did recover 83 vehicles in this investigation," Ditchkofsky said, adding that certain Honda models are favored by car thieves because their catalytic converters are made of platinum.

"They're commanding a pretty big price right now," Ditchkofsky said.

A surveillance camera mounted in an area where cars were stolen recorded footage of the two men that police used in their investigation.

Police said the brothers are likely behind other auto thefts.

Cops: 'Salesman' stole donation jar

* 72nd Street near Elmwood

Avenue

A robbery suspect posed as a door-to-door salesman, then asked for a job at a local business before snatching a donation jar off the counter, jumping on a bike and pedaling away with it yesterday afternoon, police said.

Lt. John Walker of the Southwest Detective Division gave this account:

A man walked into Twin Auto Body, in the Eastwick section of Southwest Philadelphia, about 2:30 p.m. and asked the owner if he was interested in switching electric service.

"The owner thought something wasn't right when he walked in and wasn't with a bona fide company," Walker said.

Later, the same man walked back into the auto-body shop asking for a job. The owner told the man that he wasn't hiring. The man left the building, only to return yet again. He grabbed a jar containing about $400 in cash and ran outside.

The owner chased the man, who jumped onto a small, black bike and pedaled away clutching the donation jar.

The shopowner told police that the money was supposed to be donated to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Police were on the scene last night. Tipsters are asked to call the Southwest Detective Division at 215-686-3183.

Del. dog-walker

accused of thefts

* Valley Brook Drive near Oak

Ridge Road, Oakwood Hills, Del.

New Castle County Police have arrested a dog-walker for allegedly stealing from clients' homes.

Police investigating thefts from two homes learned that both victims employed the man as a dog-walker and that he had also lived with one of the victims.

According to police, one victim asked the dog-walker to return his house key, and the dog-walker arrived wearing an article of the victim's clothing.

Joseph Francisco, 33, of Oakwood Hills, New Castle County, was charged with theft and was released on $5,000 unsecured bail, police said.

- Phillip Lucas and wire reports