Operation Wrecking Crew
By: Karen Hubbard
12/18/12 2:18 PM
For Release: December 12, 2012
Contact: Sergeant Tony Landato
Media Relations Office
On December 11, 2012, an exhaustive two-year collaborative criminal investigation, led by The Mesa Police Department, came to a successful conclusion with the arrest of several suspects and service of 4 search warrants at various valley locations.
In September 2010, the Mesa Police Department began an in-depth investigation into the business practices and operations of S.W.A.T. Towing / Auto Citi Towing, previously located at 310 S. Alma School in Mesa. The investigation was initiated after numerous complaints and calls for service at this address. The allegations followed a similar pattern indicating that S.W.A.T. / Auto Citi Towing employees had illegally towed vehicles that were properly parked, damaged vehicles during the tow process and refused to release the vehicles without a cash only payment.
Our detectives began with an arduous in-depth background investigation on the business and its employees going back to 2009. Over the next two years, dozens of victims were identified and contacted. Undercover operations were employed which confirmed the criminal activity. The investigation also revealed that some victims actually lost ownership of their vehicles to the tow company, who then fraudulently acquired those vehicles by way of applying for abandoned titles. They would later sell them at M&P Auto Sales, a connected used car lot in Chandler.
This was a complex, long-term investigation into a company whose illegal tactics and practices have victimized hundreds of people in and around the City of Mesa. With assistance from the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Motor Vehicle Division, and the Arizona Auto Theft Task Force, Mesa Police detectives were able to bring a measure of justice to those victims. The charges filed include Illegal Control of an Enterprise, Participating in a Criminal Syndicate, Trafficking in Stolen Property, Auto Theft, Forgery and Fraudulent Schemes. Anyone victimized by S.W.A.T. / Auto Citi Towing is encouraged to contact the Mesa Police Department at 480-644-2324.
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