RIVERSIDE – In 2019, the Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID) began an investigation into a criminal organization involved in Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) switching on a high number of stolen vehicles, many of which were sold to innocent purchasers throughout Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. Over the course of several months, RAID identified several homes in Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties where the suspects involved would fraudulently create DMV documents, temporary dealer license plates, VINs and other materials necessary to fraudulently register these vehicles with the DMV.
All the vehicles identified throughout this investigation were newer models, and included several luxury manufacturers such as Land Rover, BMW, Bentley, and Mercedes. Many of these vehicles were provided to other criminal associates involved with the distribution and sales of narcotics and many were sold to innocent purchasers.
During the preliminary stages of the investigation, RAID recovered 12 VIN-switched stolen vehicles, some of which were purchased by unsuspecting buyers via social media applications and independent auto dealerships through bank financing.
On May 21, 2020, Operation VIN City culminated with a multi-agency search warrant service at several locations throughout Riverside, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties. The operation resulted in the recovery of an additional 22-VIN switched stolen vehicles, the arrest of 15 suspects, the seizure of 15 firearms and illegal drugs. The total value of the 34 vehicles recovered by RAID was approximately 1.5 million dollars.
“Great job by a large group of investigative agencies, including the California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigation Division and California Department of Department of Insurance,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It often takes a group effort on local, state and federal levels to uncover these types of crimes and arrest those involved.”
Among those arrested were:
These individuals and their criminal organization are suspected of VIN switching more than 100 stolen vehicles causing a significant financial impact to the victims.
Operation VIN City was a success as a result of collaboration and support from the following agencies;
RAID’s primary mission is to investigate, arrest and prosecute criminals responsible for auto-theft. Auto-theft suspects are frequently involved in additional criminal behavior to include weapons possession, narcotics trafficking, and other violent crimes which impact the community.
The RAID task force is committed to aggressively investigating all crimes associated with auto-theft.
What’s a VIN?
A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the 17-character identifier for your car, truck, or motorcycle. It looks like this:
1VXBR12EXCP901213, and encodes the vehicle’s manufacturer, features, and serial number. No two vehicles have the same VIN, so it serves as your car’s fingerprint– this allows for all reports of accidents, title problems, insurance incidents, and more to be tracked through each vehicle’s VIN.
Through VinAudit.com, you can look up records associated with your VIN instantly:
|What’s this?||Example: 1VXBR12EXCP901213|
Where can I find my VIN?
You can find your vehicle’s VIN in the title document, the vehicle registration, and on the insurance policy. The VIN could also be located at the following locations on the car itself:
Why would I order a VIN report?
A VIN report lets you learn about your vehicle’s history. It includes checks for whether the car has been stolen, experienced accidents, recorded as salvaged, as well as many othertitle problem checks. Ordering a VIN report before purchasing a vehicle allows you to catch potential problems and purchase with confidence.
The most common reason for a high priced car dealer bond is that the dealer principal does not have established credit.
When this happens, no credit scores the same as bad credit.
There are a few reasons why folks don’t have established credit when they are getting their car dealer license.
Being young and not having any debt or loans may be the most common.
Being a cash person is another common reason.
For this purpose you must start to establish credit. The process of building credit will take some time but getting a credit card with a very low limit can help quite a bit.
Once you have the card activated simply purchase at least $55 worth of items every week and pay the card off every month.
Keep doing the same thing and your score will go up. Having available credit that you are not using will quickly improve your overall credit profile.
Case investigated by CSLEA AMVIC member Calen Albert
VISALIA – On August 1, 2019, Tulare County Superior Court, Visalia Division Judge Brett Alldredge sentenced Jose Hernandez, 53, to four years suspended state prison and ordered Hernandez to spend 270 days in custody of the Tulare County jail.
On May 14, 2019, Hernandez pleaded no contest to six felony counts of computer access fraud to alter a record and six felony counts of falsifying a government record. The 12 counts constituted all charges filed against Hernandez. No plea offers were made in this case.
The case arose out of an intensive two-year internal investigation by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) involving offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tulare counties. Multiple DMV employees, including Hernandez in Visalia, fraudulently granted passing scores on written tests to individuals who did not passed the necessary tests for commercial licenses. Hernandez did this with six drivers who paid $400 to $600 to DMV employees or intermediaries to upgrade their licenses.
“This case depicts the difficult and time-consuming investigative work done by DMV investigators. It’s unfortunate the investigation involved employees within their own department. It is not a reflection of those DMV clerks who perform their jobs honestly and work to protect all of us from drivers who, either shouldn’t be behind the wheel, or need more time to better understand the rules of the road,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Paula Clark of the Consumer Protection Unit and was investigated by DMV Investigator Calen Albert of the DMV Office of Internal Affairs.