A driver pulled over in Modesto this week told police officers that he’d swapped out the plates on his vehicle because he was behind on his payments and was afraid to use the true tags.
He made his situation only worse, though, because the plates he put on came from a stolen GMC pickup truck, Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Bear said Thursday.
About 6 p.m. Tuesday, officers saw what they believed to be a stolen vehicle, occupied and being driven near Briggsmore and McHenry avenues, Bear said. The officers conducted what’s called a high-risk or felony traffic stop.
The driver, Antonio Rubio, 30, of Modesto, offered the explanation of the late payments and said he took the plates from the GMC, which was at his business, a body shop called Kool Car Kustoms, Bear said. He told the officers that someone else does business at the shop and brought the GMC in, she said.
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Rubio agreed to go to the shop with the officers so they could investigate, she said. The man he identified as also doing business in the shop, Ceres resident Roel Zaya, 30, was called.
Zaya told the officers that he bought the GMC, ended up being suspicious about it but couldn’t get anyone to take it off his hands, Bear said. The pickup was in the process of being dismantled, she said.
No other vehicles in the body shop were determined to be stolen, Bear said, and neither was the vehicle Rubio was driving when pulled over.
Rubio faces charges of owning and operating a chop shop and receiving stolen property, she said. Zaya faces charges of owning and operating a chop shop.