ORANGE COUNTY AUTO THEFT TASK FORCE
A Multijursidictional Law Enforcement Program
Awards & Recognition
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
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)
– 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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,