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Crime watch: Car theft ring busted

• Deputies say suspects tried to buy Cadillac with bad check

Posted: June 24, 2008 1:32 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

Three Los Angeles-area residents are behind bars after they allegedly tried to purchase a Cadillac in Valencia with a bad check, according to sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Rotella. It was the latest in a string of fraudulent purchases by the accused trio, he added.

Sherman Oaks resident Samuel Atkinson, 29, and Simi Valley residents Dunbar Jordan Tuason, 24, and Lisa Visin, 40, allegedly targeted Parkway Cadillac in Valencia to steal their next vehicle, and were arrested Saturday.

Tuason reportedly contacted the dealership and looked into purchasing a brand new Cadillac CTS. He said he was a U.S. Navy SEAL and was working for a successful record producer, Rotella said in his report.

Tuason reportedly told the general sales manager that he would purchase the new vehicle with a third party check drawn from a Rhode Island bank account. He also said that he had a Massachusetts drivers license, according to the report.

The sales manager, Michael Roth, contacted the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and spoke with Rotella, providing information on Tuason and the documentation he provided to purchase the vehicle.

After he alerted authorities, Roth asked Tuason to come to the dealership to complete the purchase. Rotella stated in his report that Tuason arrived with Atkinson and Visin, negotiated a final sale price and provided Roth with the fraudulent check. When they walked outside to pick up their newly "purchased" vehicle, they instead found deputies waiting for them.

An arrest was immediately made, with all three taken into custody without incident.

Roth could not be reached for comment Monday.

The trio's attempted purchase on Saturday afternoon was the latest in an apparent string of similar thefts throughout northern Los Angeles county and eastern Ventura county. Tuason, Atkinson and Visin allegedly tried to purchase vehicles through similar means at 10 other dealerships in Santa Monica, Woodland Hills, Reseda, Van Nuys and Thousand Oaks.

The vehicles they apparently tried to purchase included a Porsche Turbo Cabriolet, Porsche Cayenne, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus ISF, BMW M5, Honda Accord, Audi RS4 and Audi A4. During a subsequent investigation, detectives also found that the suspects had stolen two motorcycles and a BMW 328i.

According to Rotella's report, the trio arrived at Parkway Cadillac in a vehicle they allegedly stole from a Reseda dealership a few hours earlier.

All three were booked at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on charges of grand theft auto, theft through fraudulent actions, conspiracy to commit fraud and burglary. Each is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

The case is still being investigated. Anyone with additional information may call Detective Hirano of the county's Task Force for Regional Autotheft Prevention at (818) 830-6977.

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