MESA, Ariz. — An alleged car thief is suspected of obtaining dozens of fake permits from the Arizona Department of Transportation in order to get tow trucks to haul away stolen vehicles across Mesa.
Court records show Josue David Cora De La Rosa, 37, was arrested this month on suspicion of stealing at least seven vehicles throughout the East Valley.
According to a report written by the Mesa Police Department, investigators received reports for 15 similar cases of car theft happening in the city between July and October.
In each instance, police said the suspect would fraudulently obtain a temporary 3-day registration permit online, print it out, then call local junkyards looking to buy used vehicles.
De La Rosa allegedly told Mesa police the tow truck driver would pay him up to $1,000 to take the car and scrap it for parts.
"None of the stolen property was recovered and is believed to have been destroyed," Mesa police wrote in a report.
In some cases, victims interrupted the suspect as he was attempting to haul away their car and scared him off, court records show.
The defendant allegedly admitted to stealing at least seven cars. He told investigators he would drive around Mesa looking for cars to steal. Once he found one, De La Rosa would allegedly copy down its vehicle identification number, which was later used to obtain a temporary permit.
Three-day permits are typically used for unregistered cars that need to be taken in for inspections, repairs, or emissions testing, according to the state's website.
Most of the vehicle thefts took place between Country Club Drive and the Loop 101 freeway. Police estimated the suspect allegedly stole more than $20,000 worth of property from the victims.
De La Rosa was recently indicted in Maricopa County Superior Court on several counts of fraud and vehicle theft.
Mesa police said its investigation is ongoing and detectives are still working to decipher if any other suspects were involved in the fraud.
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