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Stolen ID used to buy $44K pickup
A Modesto man poses with a new 2010 Dodge Ram pickup truck he fraudulently purchased from Cabrals Chrysler Jeep early last week at closing time. Manteca detectives caught up with the man early Tuesday afternoon and called in STANCATT Stanislaus Countys auto theft task force resulting in the arrest of Heath Lee Roberson, 36, of Modesto. - photo by Photo courtesy Manteca Police Department

A 36-year-old Modesto man who had duped the sales staff of a Manteca new car dealership and made off with a new $44,000 Dodge Ram extended cab pickup truck was located by Manteca Police detectives and arrested after a combination of a chase and foot pursuit that ended with major damage to the vehicle.

Heath Lee Roberson, 36, a parolee-at-large, was charged with auto theft for driving off the lot with the truck a week ago Monday night from Cabral Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Manteca where he used a series of stolen ID documents taken from the victim’s wallet he had scooped  up from a counter in a Modesto retail office supply store.

The suspect was apparently proud of his purchase and allowed the Cabral sales staff to take their traditional photograph of another new vehicle owner before he drove off.

Manteca Detective Steve Harris said Roberson is now also being charged with a similar scam at the Alfred Mathews dealership in Modesto where he allegedly had used stolen IDs to purchase a Land Rover, police said.  The Land Rover was also recovered this week.

Possession of stolen property, felony evasion along with a parolee-at-large warrant out for his arrest,  along with a $175,000 felony warrant out of Livermore PD for vehicle theft,  and identity theft were some of the charges stacked against the man when he was taken into custody about 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

“It took just a few days, but we came up with our man,” Harris said.  “As a result of this case three additional parolees were arrested for weapons violations.”

Detectives Harris and Rob Armosino had driven to Modesto on Tuesday to follow up leads of where the suspect might be living.  He said in checking out one of the addresses they found the truck backed into the driveway bearing Alfred Mathews paper plates.  The Cabral advertising plates had been removed, the officers noted.

“When we found it, we called in the troops – (STANCATT) the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force, but the suspect left the house before other officers arrived,” the detective said.

They followed Roberson and said he practiced counter surveillance maneuvers to make sure no one was following him and finally parked by another residence on Dawn Street and went inside where he remained for half an hour.  Meanwhile the auto theft task force and two California Highway Patrol units arrived in the neighborhood.

As the officers took up positions, the suspect left the house and drove off down the street. When the truck made the turn in the corner it encountered a spike strip that the CHP had deployed in case Roberson made a run to get away. 

Harris said the driver fled on deflated tires for some six blocks before he crashed into a parked car.  The truck sustained major damage to its right front with comparable damage to the car that had been parked at the curbing.

The driver reportedly fled on foot and jumped back fences in an attempt to get away, but he was quickly taken into custody by task force officers, the detective said.

Harris added that the driver’s license that came from the stolen wallet a week before was located in the cab of the pickup truck.  The search of the man’s residence yielded large amounts of identity theft documents related to IRS documents and other allegedly stolen ID items.

Harris credited other Manteca detectives and the Manteca Street Crimes Unit along with the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force and the CHP with working together in solving a very complicated identity theft case.

Don Cabral, owner of the Cabral dealership in Manteca, said the stolen wallet had all the man’s information from his driver’s license to his Social Security card as well as insurance papers.

“It all happened about closing time Monday night (a week ago) when things got awfully busy,” he said.  The suspect filled out a contract to purchase the black truck and presented a check for the deposit – a check that couldn’t be confirmed with the bank in the nighttime hours.

Cabral said the truck was loaded with all the amenities including 20-inch chrome wheels, a V-8 Hemi, 5.7 liter engine, backup camera, tow package and leather interior.  The suspect reportedly had a white female with him described with blonde hair weighing about 140 pounds.

The suspect is being held in the Stanislaus County Jail in Modesto.