Stolen Vehicles Scam Targets Hispanics

February 18, 2003



WHO: LAPD Captain Jerry Szmanski, Commanding Officer of LAPD Burglary Auto Theft Division, BAD Detectives
WHAT: A Press Conference Regarding Grand Theft Auto Ring
WHEN: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 11:45 a.m.
WHERE: LAPD Parker Center, 150 North Los Angeles Street
(Front of Building)


Los Angeles: In March of 2002, LAPD Detectives began receiving multiple cases involving the sale of stolen vehicles. The investigators noted that victims would answer an ad in local newspapers such as La Opinion or El Clasificado.

Arranging to meet the seller, the victim would call a telephone number placed in the ad section and would meet at a specified time, usually occurring at the victim’s residence. During the transaction, the victim would request the certificate of title and driver’s license. Convinced that the purchase was legitimate, the victim would drive the suspect back to the address listed on the supplied registration. When the victim attempted to register the vehicle, the Department of Motor Vehicles license background check revealed that the vehicle was stolen. Upon investigation, LAPD detectives would attempt to contact the individual who sold the vehicle and discovered the telephone number was disconnected. Search warrant attempts on the numbers for subscriber information did not produce suspect information, but did reveal that the suspects were obtaining telephone service by a pre-paid service. A search of the address supplied on the registration papers revealed that the suspects did not live at the residence. Additionally, the Certificate of Title and the suspect’s driver’s license also proved to be fraudulent.
In August 2002, LAPD detectives conducted a sting operation via an ad in La Opinion and subsequently arrested two Los Angeles male Hispanics, both convicted and who are currently on probation. In September 2002, detectives again initiated a sting from La Opinion, and one man was arrested and is currently serving two years in state prison. Through the cooperation of La Opinion, several suspects have been identified and are currently under investigation. Many cases have been documented throughout Los Angeles County. The press conference will highlight past cases and identify the issues of fraudulent documents and the validity of vehicle purchase to protect the buyers. For further information, contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Burglary Auto Theft Division at 213-485-2507.
This press release was prepared by Officer Jack Richter, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.