WESTERN STATES AUTO THEFT
INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION
SOUTHERN CHAPTER
TRAINING MEETING / LUNCHEON

July 15, 1999 - Harbor House Restaurant - Marina Del Rey


President Randy Ballin called the meeting to order, and didn't forget the flag salute this time.  He asked Past President Dave Dempsey to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ted Saraf, who is now back to work without crutches, made a sad announcement to the membership, informing us of the passing of longtime member and supporter of WSATI, Bob Montoya.  Bob had been the Director of Law Enforcement Relations for LoJack for many years.  He had been stricken with Leukemia and finally succumbed on July 13.  Bob will be remembered by all of us.  The family requests that any donations be made to the City of Hope.

The first speaker of the day was Stefanie Bauer, Guidance Software, Inc.  She gave a presentation of their computer forensics software, EnCase.  Stefanie told us that EnCase is a Windows based forensic tool utilized by both he public and private sectors.  A slide presentation was utilized to show us how their system can be used in vehicle theft investigations where the crooks are using computers.  These computers can be searched, and the data contained therein is captured into EnCase.  Training is now available nationwide, and they are applying for P.O.S.T. accreditation.

Accompanying Stefanie was Guidance Software President Shawn McCreight, who also spoke on the product and answered questions from the audience.

Lee Martin (CHP-LA) spoke regarding a case he has been working involving counterfeit VIN plates.  To date, he has recovered 19 vin switched vehicles, all of which are high dollar cars (Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburbans, etc.)  Lee passed around samples of the counterfeit plates, which included a bar code.  These plates are being made legitimately, but being used for an illegitimate purpose.  Many vehicles have been recovered in New York and Nevada, and several suspects have been arrested.  If you have any questions or something to add to Lee’s investigation, call him at 323-644-9550.

Stephanie Wheaton (310 998-5761) of DMV gave us a short presentation on the new California driver's licenses, which are currently being used.  She also passed out a booklet with sample photos of the new drivers licenses and spoke regarding the new security laminates being utilized.  Stephanie reminded us to be ever watchful for the many counterfeit drivers licenses still out there.

Dave Gil and Albert Wong of the South Bay TRAP team spoke of a case they have been working involving vehicles being car jacked out of Mexico City at gunpoint.  The vehicles are taken into the U.S.  through the California border where they are VIN switched and registered.  Their investigation has included 12 vehicles so far, and as a result, they switched their operation to Arizona.  A search warrant was prepared and served in Arizona, so now rumor has it that they may move to Utah.  They are looking for the “mule” of this organization and have identified him as Raul Marquez.  He hangs around the South Gate and Huntington Park areas.  The vehicles taken have mostly been Dodge Durango’s, and Gil and Wong say that they know of four currently outstanding.  Prosecution may possibly be handled in Mexico where suspects face a sentence of 50 years for their involvement in this conspiracy compared to the rather light sentence here in California of 18 months.  Dave mentioned the difficult time they are encountering with getting the Mexican stolen vehicle system online with ours. 

Luke Magee, a.k.a. “Whalebone”, of Central TRAP informed us of a theft scam being perpetrated on local dealerships (Santa Monica Porsche, Santa Monica BMW and Lou Elher’s Cadillac), where a male suspect posing as a movie star enters into a prepaid lease agreement, writing a check that bounces some 30 days later.  The suspect uses the car for the month, dumps it and then hits another dealership repeating his scam. Anyone with similar cases is asked to call Luke at 213-847-3785. 

Ted Saraf gave us a “LoJack” update, telling us that they are up and running in Guadalajara and Mexico City.  Listening devices are also currently being placed near the Mexican border in the San Diego area, and they are hopeful that they will be active by October or November of this year.  Ted also informed those in attendance that, in the Bay area, they are currently meeting with the CHP and other agencies and hope to have them on board as well.  LoJack is also looking toward the Sacramento and Fresno areas in the future. 

Carol VanNatter gave us an update as to the WSATI roster, which will be by both member's last name and agency.  The current list is available on a floppy disk, via email or for those without e-mail, it will be provided to you by mail.  Carol's e-mail address is cvannatter@wsati.org.  If you contact her, she will gladly download it to your computer if you have the Windows 97 Excel program.   If you need a hard copy or a floppy disk, she can be reached at 714-885-1608.

Randy Ballin updated us on the ongoing process of getting WSATI designated as a nonprofit organization.  Assisting in this process is Attorney Richard Knapp, who is graciously donating his time in this endeavor.

Randy Ballin also told us that the ongoing problem of previously renumbered vehicles (blue tagged) will hopefully be alleviated by the first of the year.  A supplemental information sticker will be affixed to the dashboard of the renumbered vehicle next to where the original VIN plate once appeared.  It will be manufactured by the same company that makes the current “blue tags”, and will be similar in size.  Steve Torres of DMV is assisting in having DMV upgrade its registration printouts to reflect that the vehicle has been renumbered.  All of this is intended to assist the officers in the field along with parking control officers from needlessly impounding vehicles for no visible public VIN plate.

The Bent Screwdriver Award was presented to NICB, who sponsored the meeting but did not provide any door prizes.  Dave Dempsey accepted the award for NICB as he is an expert in this type of acceptance. 

Don't forget to check out the WSATI web site compiled by our Web Master/Vice President Gary Labb.  Gary has done an excellent job of keeping us informed via the Internet.  You can currently access the WSATI web page through the web address of: http://www.wsati.org/.   Thanks again to Gary for all his hard work. 

The next WSATI meeting will be held on September 16th at 1000 a.m. at the Town & Country Hotel, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego.  We will be in the Convention Center, Sierra Room.  See you there! 

UPCOMING WSATI ANNUAL TRAINING SEMINAR/CONFERENCE

The Central Chapter of WSATI is hosting the 28th Annual Training Seminar, November 7th – 9th, 1999 at the Monterey Beach Hotel, 2600 Sand Dunes Drive, Monterey, CA 93940 (800) 242-8627.  For information on the conference, contact P.J. Odonnell, Fresno PD (559) 498-1198 / Chris Freeman, CHP Central (661) 395-2574.

Our understanding is the host hotel, the Monterey Beach Hotel, is completely booked.  WSATI Central Chapter is suggesting to book at the overflow hotel, the Carmel Mission Inn.

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