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Undercover Agents Take Down Car Thieves

Aired 5/25/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego authorities are working to nab car thieves in the county through undercover operations.

— San Diego authorities are working to nab car thieves in the county through undercover operations.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s office says the latest operations resulted in the indictments of 31 alleged car thieves.

DA Bonnie Dumanis announces the results of a four-month undercover auto theft...
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Above: DA Bonnie Dumanis announces the results of a four-month undercover auto theft operation.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Dix says undercover agents worked for four months posing as stolen car buyers to take down auto-theft rings.

“These are not people who are just having a bad day and decide to steal a car,” he said. “These are people that have a sophisticated group. One person is the mechanic. One is the wheeler and dealer with the money.”

Dix said a stolen car is often sold for just a few hundred dollars. Cars like Hondas and Toyotas are often targeted because thieves are familiar with how they work and can get into them easily. The cars are often taken across the border.

Dix said thieves commonly sneak into people’s homes and steal keys hanging near doors then come back later and steal the car. Sometimes it’s not even that complicated.

“You’d be amazed at how many people leave a spare key in the center console of their car,” he said.

San Diego is rated 15th in the nation for auto theft, down from third in 2007.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is currently running for San Diego Mayor.

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Avatar for user 'Dothscribble'

Dothscribble | May 24, 2012 at 8:37 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

Great job! As an additional move, pushing the envelope of entrapment is entirely appropriate if or when that's ever considered. Many support it.

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Avatar for user 'Roberto Rolando Salinas'

Roberto Rolando Salinas | May 25, 2012 at 11:18 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I find it very puzzling that none of the 31-people arrested are named. I find it even more puzzling that the number of stolen vehicles wasn't mentioned. I know that most all law enforcement agencies are backing DA Dumanis, but calling a news conference to announce the outcome of a four month investigation with very little specifics, is more suspect. Great photo op with the candidate for mayor surrounded by uniform department heads and the San Diego police chief. We'll see how many of the arrest will hold up in court. As we have seen in past cases with this DA, not all is as reported. Dumanis is exceptionally proud of having the highest conviction rate in the state. As we have seen through out her career, high prosecution rates aren't necessarily just, nor did they protect at least one victim, after reporting being raped and kidnapped, to her investigators.

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Avatar for user 'Len'

Len | May 26, 2012 at 4:49 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

@RobertoRolando: Well put. You didn't mention the timing of the "operation," and the timing of the press conference. (But not to worry; if you didn't know Dumanis was running for mayor, KPBS was nice enough to tell you.) I don't understand why KPBS chose to run this in so much space and airtime. (No, I do understand. As do you.)

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Avatar for user 'J3rrYcid'

J3rrYcid | January 3, 2013 at 11:09 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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