A warning from Metro East Police. An auto theft ring hits at least 9 vehicle owners. These are thieves who never break any glass. They don't hotwire the ignition. But they're responsible for stealing vehicles valued at over 80 thousand dollars.
The man and woman boldly walk into a title loan office in Granite City. They're trying to get a title loan for what essentially is a stolen vehicle using a fictitious name. Gary Brewer Director of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force wants them stopped.
'We`ve had information that he`s involved in St. Charles County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County.'
Police need help identifying the woman. But they know the man is Gordon Caldwell. Madison County has already issued an arrest warrant for Caldwell. Brewer suspects there may be many more victims of this scheme which starts with ads in newspapers and Craigslist.
'He`d make contact with the person who advertised the vehicles. From there he`d meet with them, arrange for the purchase, he`d then produce the manufactured checks.'
Yes the cars are bought with bogus checks. These are copies of checks Caldwell allegedly bought the vehicles with. The original check looks real. The banks do exist. But investigators can see that the routing numbers and account numbers are practically identical on all the checks. The thief didn't stop there.
'He produced fake ID identifying himself, make the purchase and when the unsuspecting seller would try to deposit the check they would learn the documents were worthless.'
Police think Caldwell would zig zag across the metro area picking up and dropping off vehicles.
'When he`d show up at the house, to view the vehicle, he`d be driving a vehicle. Then take the other vehicle out for a test drive and not return. And it was later determined that the vehicle he traveled to the location in was stolen.'
You really want to use caution when selling to strangers. Newspaper and internet ads could be answered by the wrong person. What appears to be a cashier's check could be bogus. If you've been taken by these suspects or if you know Gordon Caldwell call Crimestoppers. The number is 866-371-8477. The call is free and there could be a reward if the pair is convicted.
And call us if you have a consumer complaint. The number is 1800 782-2222. Volunteers take calls Monday through Thursday from 11am till 1pm. Don't lose your money or property to scammers.