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Fritz Grimsley

ORANGE COUNTY AUTO THEFT TASK FORCE
A Multijursidictional Law Enforcement Program

Awards & Recognition

In 2015, the Orange County Auto Theft Taskforce (OCATT) received the following awards as a result of “Operation Hogg Life” 

2015 – IAATI WRC Executive Board Achievement of Excellence Award

2015 – International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Vehicle Theft Award of Merit: Taskforce Category

2015 – NICB / Gary Gray Award
 

The 2015 – IAATI WRC Executive Board Achievement of Excellence Award was presented at the IAATI Training Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona.   (Lieutenant Michael Stefanoff, Investigator Dave Navarro, and Investigator Jim Eberhart accepted the award)

The 2015 – International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Vehicle Theft Award of Merit: Taskforce Category was presented at the IACP Conference in Chicago, Illinois.  (Lieutenant Michael Stefanoff, Sergeant Fel Navarro, and Investigator Dave Navarro accepted the award)

The 2015 – NICB / Gary Gray Award was presented at the WSATI Annual Training Seminar in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  (Lieutentant Michael Stefanoff and Investigator Dave Navarro, along with the entire OCATT Team accepted the award) 

At the beginning on 2014, California Highway Patrol Investigator D. Navarro, #17362, assigned to the Orange County Auto Theft Taskforce (OCATT), developed information from numerous financial institutions (victims) of an illegal title washing operation throughout Southern California.  As OCATT investigators began coordinating their information, they ultimately determined Ontario PD Officer Javier Arriola had some preliminary information regarding this case from his previous traffic stop.  Through this collaboration, it was determined the investigation involved many of the same crimes and suspects.  As a result OCATT took the lead on the investigation. 

This investigation involved the theft of new and used high end vehicles by the fraudulent removal of the Lien Holder’s (Legal Owners) from the vehicle ownership titles.  This process is known as “Title Washing.”  The lien holders are removed by the submission of fraudulent lien sale and/or lien satisfied documents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  Once the lien holder/legal owners were removed from the vehicle titles, the suspects used the vehicles in other criminal activities.  The suspects sold the vehicles to innocent purchasers, traded them in during the purchase of other vehicles, exported them out of the country, and/or utilized them as collateral for obtaining cash loans.  The suspects involved in this investigation were also involved in additional illegal activities, ranging from identity theft, credit card fraud, smuggling vehicles out of the country, insurance fraud, staged collisions and VIN switching. 

Operation “Hogg Life” identified a total 52 suspects, 149 stolen vehicles and several local businesses who were involved in the criminal activity.  Over 50 victims were identified and impacted by the suspects involved.  The majority of the victims involved were auto dealerships and financial institutions with a total loss exceeding $4 million dollars. 

On February 26, 2015, as a culmination of the yearlong investigation, OCATT Investigators, working in conjunction with the Ontario Police Department, over fifteen other state and local agencies, from four counties, served 43 Ramey Arrest Warrants and 12 Search Warrants.  As a result of the operation and subsequent follow-up, 50 suspects have been arrested throughout San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties.  Some portions of the investigation have also involved the states of Nevada and Arizona.  The coordinated law enforcement efforts culminated in the recovery of 140+ vehicles, the seizure of 3 weapons and the identification of sophisticated Chop Shop and an indoor Marijuana Grow.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office filed a total of 301 felony counts, with 73 special allegations, against the suspects involved.  Due to the extensive investigative work and professional presentation of the OCATT investigators’ reports 48 of the suspects have pleaded guilty to felony charges as of this date. 


September 12, 2013 - IAATI WRC Executive Board Achievement of Excellence Award

The 2013 Award was presented at the 2013 Arizona Auto Theft Investigators Association (AATIA) Training Seminar in Laughlin, NV on September 12, 2013.  The 2013 WRC-IAATI Executive Board Achievement of Excellence Award was presented to the Orange County (CA) Auto Theft TaskForce (OCATT) representatives Task Force Commander Lieutenant Brian Lee, Sergeant Bob Barkley, and Lead Case Investigator Kraig Palmer.  As the result of lead investigator Kraig Palmer's investigation into the theft of rental cars obtained by fraudulent credit card information, OCATT detectives located and recovered 42 vehicles with an estimated value of over $1,200,000, and 27 suspects were arrested.  Additionally, two stolen guns were recovered and numerous charges were added for possession of narcotics.  Several probation searches and search warrants were also conducted.  During the execution of one of the probation searches, OCATT detectives discovered an advanced credit card manufacturing operation and recovered several thousand dollars in credit card manufacturing equipment and software.  OCATT detectives also recovered over 100 credit card account profiles used for credit card theft.    After the primary suspect’s arrest, the Orange County District Attorney's Office filed 35 felony counts against her. 


September 17, 2009 - Billy Osborn Memorial Award

Orange County Sheriff's Department/OCATT Investigator Bud Hood was awarded the Billy Osborn Memorial Award by the Southern Chapter of the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association.  The presentation was made at the September 2009 WSATI training meeting in Carlsbad.  Investigator Hood was recognized for his many years as a vehicle theft investigator for the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force, as well as his many contributions to the WSATI Southern Chapter.


June 6, 2006 - Recognition Luncheon by Orange County District Attorneys Office

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Orange County District Attorney Chief of Investigations Don Blankenship participated in a recognition luncheon.   The Chiefs / Department Heads of the agencies making up OCATT's membership were also invited to participate.

The luncheon was held to recognize the efforts of the members of OCATT during calendar year 2005.  OCATT personnel were recognized for the 323 vehicles that were successfully recovered worth an estimated $7,812,382.00.  The average value of the vehicles they recovered was $24,186.94. 

The 2005 OCATT members recognized were CHP Lieutenant Rick Pena, CHP Sergeant Ron Brame, Newport Beach Sergeant Joe Thrasher, OCDA Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce, Brea Police Detective Manny Ramos, Buena Park Police Detective Brian Penfold, DOI Investigator Sam Abrego, DOI Investigator Pete Tuttle, CHP Investigator Al Perez, CHP Investigator Mike Pimental, Fullerton Police Detective Pat Martin, Huntington Beach Police Detective Jon Haught, La Habra Police Detective Dan Barnes, NICB Special Agent Dave Schwartzkopf, NICB Special Agent Mark Stowell, Newport Beach Police Detective Kent Eischen, OCDA Investigator Glenn Overley, OCSD Investigator Bud Hood, Placentia Police Detective Brian Renden, Santa Ana Police Detective Gary Labb, and Westminster Police Detective Jim Gist. (Investigator Abrego and Special Agent Stowell were mid-year replacements for Investigator Tuttle and Special Agent Schwartzkopf)

This was an all-time high for both vehicles recovered and recovery value in OCATT's history since beginning in July 1993.


July 29, 2004 - CHP Commissioner's Unit Citation

California Highway Patrol Commissioner "Spike" Helmick presented OCATT with the first Commissioner's Unit Citation to be given to a vehicle theft task force.  The award was presented to CHP/OCATT Sergeant Fritz Grimsley who accepted the Unit Citation on behalf of the current OCATT personnel who were in attendance at the presentation, as well as all the prior OCATT personnel who have worked at OCATT since July 1993.  The citation read:

Orange County Auto Theft Task Force

The members of the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT) are commended by the California Highway Patrol for their dedicated and tenacious efforts in reduction of vehicle theft in Orange County.  Your actions have had significant impact on the vehicle theft problem in the county.  OCATT is an outstanding example of cooperative enforcement operations by city, state, and county law enforcement agencies.  The CHP enthusiastically supports your work and wishes you continued success.  June, 2004


July 29, 2004 - CHP Division Chief's Commendation

California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief "Skip" Carter presented CHP/OCATT Sergeant Fritz Grimsley with a Division Chief's Commendation.  The commendation read:

Awarded to Sergeant Robert F. Grimsley, Jr. #5173 for Outstanding Performance.  Fritz, you have dedicated 37 years of your career to the detection and apprehension of vehicle thieves.  You are a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge and information relative to the criminal mind of a vehicle thief.  You have consistently tutored, mentored and guided younger officers in the finer aspects of surveillance, undercover and team work.  You were instrumental in the creation of OCATT.  Throughout your distinguished career, you consistently exhibited professionalism and determination in positively representing the department.

Fritz, you have had a long and impressive career.  As you begin this new chapter, please know that it is as difficult for us to say farewell to you, as it is for you to go.  You are leaving behind an impressive legacy.  Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for a job well done.


September 23, 2003 - DOI Award for Excellence

Department of Insurance/OCATT Investigator Peter Tuttle was the recipient of an Award for Excellence from Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's Office.  This was in recognition of Investigator Tuttle's investigations leading to the arrests and prosecutions of suspects involved in insurance fraud.


October 2002 - Auto Theft Heroes of the Month

Auto-Theft.info, the leading online auto theft information clearinghouse, and Winner International, LLC, makers of The Club®, the No. 1 selling vehicle anti-theft device recognized the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force as the "Auto Theft Heroes of the Month."  It went to the entire team rather than the usual individual award given.  OCATT was recognized as a dedicated group of crime fighters and was singled out for their consistently strong efforts at combating auto theft in Orange County over the past few years.


January 18, 2001 - Billy Osborn Memorial Award

CHP/OCATT Sergeant Fritz Grimsley was awarded the Billy Osborn Memorial Award by the Southern Chapter of the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association.  The presentation was made at the January 2001 WSATI training meeting in Laguna Hills.  Sergeant Grimsley was recognized for his many years as a vehicle theft investigator for the California Highway Patrol and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force, as well as his contributions to the WSATI Southern Chapter.


January 20, 2000 - Billy Osborn Memorial Award

Santa Ana Police/OCATT Investigator Gary Labb was awarded the Billy Osborn Memorial Award by the Southern Chapter of the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association.  The presentation was made at the January 2000 WSATI training meeting in Laguna Hills.  Investigator Labb was recognized for his many years as a vehicle theft investigator for the Santa Ana Police Department and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force, as well as his contributions to the WSATI Southern Chapter.


November 10, 1999 - Trooper James E. Gain Memorial Award

CHP/OCATT Sergeant Fritz Grimsley was recognized for his many, many years of service as an auto theft investigator and was awarded the prestigious Washington State Patrol Trooper James E. Gain Memorial Award.  Sergeant Grimsley accepted the award in November 1999 at the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association's 28th Annual Training Conference in Monterey, California.


October 1999 - Southern California Fraud Investigators Association

The Southern California Fraud Investigators Association (SCFIA) asked OCATT to teach an auto theft and chop shop training session at their 20th Annual Educational Seminar in Ventura, California. OCATT proudly accepted the invitation.  OCATT's live demonstration of vehicle stripping proved to be very informative and useful to the students.  In appreciation, SCFIA presented OCATT with a handsome plaque.


June 1999 - I.A.S.I.U Auto Theft Task Force of the Year

The International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) Southern California Chapter recognized OCATT as the 1999 Auto Theft Task Force of the Year.  CHP/OCATT Lieutenant Szabo and several OCATT detectives attended the award presentation in La Mirada, California.


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