Santa Clarita Business Helps Deputies Crack Auto Theft Ring
Proactive training yields crime bust that stretches far beyond City borders.
On Saturday, Parkway Cadillac General Sales Manager Michael Roth was approached by a man claiming to be an ex-Navy SEAL working currently for a music producer. The man then tried to buy a new Cadillac CTS using a 3rd party check from a Rhode Island Bank account.
Just three weeks earlier, Roth had attended a fraud prevention class hosted by the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Business Alliance. Now with suspicious circumstances surrounding Saturday’s sale, he chose to contact Sgt. A.J. Rotella of the Sheriff’s Department.
Sgt. Rotella then started to uncover details about the potential buyer, identified as Dunbar Tuason, and two other accomplices; Samuel Atkinson and Lisa Visin.
Rotella discovered that they had fraudulently purchased vehicles from at least 10 different dealerships throughout southern California.
Luxury cars were the main attraction, with the suspects ordering cars like a BMW M-5, Lexus ISF, Audi RS4, and a $150,000 Porsche Turbo.
With the new information now in hand, Parkway Cadillac arranged for the suspects to come pick up the vehicles, while Sheriff’s deputies waited out of sight.
All three suspects showed up at the dealership on McBean Parkway, where they presented their fake checks to purchase the CTS.
Instead of receiving the keys to their new car, the suspects were instead taken to jail. They were booked on charges of Grand Theft Auto, Theft through Fraudulent Actions, Conspiracy to Commit Fraud and Burglary. Each suspect is being held on $100,000 bail.
Deputies also found that the vehicle the suspects drove to Parkway Cadillac was fraudulently taken from a Reseda car dealership earlier in the day.
The investigation has been turned over the County’s Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention, and new evidence has reportedly been found at the suspects’ residences.
Since the whole bust stemmed from an alert Santa Clarita business, the story is being used as an example of the success of the Sheriff’s Business Alliance. The training that Michael Roth received is part of the program, which the City authorized in last year’s budget.
“This is an excellent example of the strong working relationship that the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s has with our local business community,” said Captain Anthony LaBerge of the Santa Clarita station.