Suspects Arrested in Alleged Calif. Car Theft Ring

April 29, 2005

Ten Thai nationals were arrested in California for allegedly participating in a car theft ring that caused $10 million (euro7.7 million) in losses to dealerships and insurances, police said.

The suspects were arrested for investigation of embezzlement and auto theft, said Sgt. Paul Wolcott, a police spokesman. Each was released on $30,000 (euro23,137.44) bail.

Police claim the suspects each received $1,000 (euro771) to use their good credit to lease cars that were later given to other suspects who installed global positioning systems. Ringleaders then located and stole the vehicles before reselling them to other buyers.

About 100 vehicles, including Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Hummer models, were fraudulently leased from dealerships in Hermosa Beach and elsewhere in Los Angeles County. Losses included value of the vehicles as well as insurance payouts and other costs, Wolcott said.

Organizers of the alleged scam have not been arrested, and at least four fled to Thailand, police said.

Wolcott said 35 vehicles valued at about $3.5 million (euro2.7 million) have been recovered.

The suspects were identified as Malidar Uthainatapong, 53; Naraporn Uthainatapong, 48, of Lynwood; Boonplod Klunchoo, 48, of Downey; Eric Boutatay, 44, of West Covina; Pamela Newton, 52, of Anaheim; Jane Chokemesil, 44, of Norwalk; Porpen Tunsupaphol, 53; Mary Utha, 65, Los Angeles; and Jaruporn Samanukorn, 32, and Yuwanda Samanukorn, 25, both of Sun Valley.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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