Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two Sentenced for Classic Cars Chop Shop. Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention - TRAP From Bail Bondsman In Santa Monica

Throughout the year 2010, Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) detectives conducted an investigation regarding the theft of numerous classic Mercedes Benz vehicles, committed throughout Los Angeles County.

During this investigation, on November 23, 2010, a suspect was discovered by law enforcement pushing a stolen, classic Mercedes Benz and another vehicle in Hollywood. The suspect evaded law enforcement and fled the scene. Through DNA evidence and latent fingerprints, the suspect was later identified as Michael Green, 58, of Los Angeles.

On September 18, 2011, actor John Travolta’s classic 1970 Mercedes Benz 280 SL convertible was reported stolen to the Santa Monica Police Department. TRAP detectives received this information along with a tip that Green and second suspect, D.L. Rayford, 52, of Los Angeles, had stolen it. Based on this information, TRAP detectives conducted a surveillance operation on Green and Rayford in an attempt to locate Mr. Travolta’s vehicle and other stolen vehicles.

After extensive surveillance, detectives followed Green to an unlicensed auto repair facility. During a business inspection of the Los Angeles repair facility, detectives uncovered a chop shop, where stolen vehicles are disassembled and the parts are sold for profit.

Detectives detained Green, who confessed to stealing numerous vehicles and cutting up Mr. Travolta’s vehicle and selling the parts to vehicle restorers. Green also admitted he stole over 30 classic cars over a two-year period and was already on felony probation for auto theft. Rayford was later questioned and admitted to helping steal and hide Mr. Travolta’s Mercedes Benz.

As a result of TRAP’s coordinated efforts and extensive investigation with the Santa Monica Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, both Green and Rayford were arrested, convicted and sentenced.

On December 19, 2011, Rayford was arrested for Grand Theft-Automobile by TRAP detectives and booked at the Santa Monica Police Department. On March 1, 2012, in the Los Angeles County Airport Court, Rayford was convicted and sentenced to 1 1/2 years in state prison.

On December 6, 2011, Green was arrested for Owning/Operating a Chop Shop by TRAP detectives and booked at the Santa Monica Police Department. On March 28, 2012, in the Los Angeles County Airport Court, Green was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in state prison.

The Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) was established in 1993 under the direction of the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee (CCJCC) with the Sheriff designated as the Regional Coordinator. The task force consists of regional investigative teams from various law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County. TRAP’s mission is to reduce the incidents of auto theft countywide by coordinating a deterrence, investigation, and prosecutorial program with all criminal justice agencies, and private sector business leaders.

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