COCOA, Fla. – After a Cocoa couple unknowingly purchased a pickup truck on Craigslist that was stolen from a car dealership the victims didn't take it lying down. Their efforts would later help Cocoa police track down the suspected thieves.
In October 2018, Cocoa police said the victim and his wife bought a Chevy Silverado for $13,800 from a person on Craigslist. The victim said the seller had a fake tag, title, registration and bill of sale, which he only realized when he went to register his new truck. He was told the truck was stolen from a local car dealership and he filled a theft report with police. The victim also took the stolen truck back to the dealership, police said.
A month later, the victim's wife saw a similar ad posted on Craigslist for a GMC Sierra pickup truck in Delray Beach. She contacted the seller and said the voice on the other end of the phone was the same person who sold her husband the stolen truck, according to police. The couple contacted the Delray Beach Police Department to notify local authorities of a potential theft and scam.
Working with Delray Beach police, the victim's wife pretended to want to buy the truck. When they met up with the suspects in Delray Beach, police arrested the sellers, Brandon Gonzalez, 30, and Delia Sanchez, 20, both of Texas. They were booked into the Palm Beach County Jail.
Cocoa police said they believe the suspects were hired by an organized theft ring to steal vehicles from car dealerships around the state and sell them on Craigslist and Offer Up using forged documents.
“We encourage people to research the vehicles they are purchasing, especially from private sellers,” Cocoa police Detective Ron McCarron said. “If there is any question that it may not be a legitimate deal, please contact your local law enforcement agency to make sure the vehicle has legitimate paperwork.”
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about more thefts or possible fraudulent sales is asked to call the Central Florida Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8433).