PORT ST. LUCIE — A tow truck driver and a man who fills vending machines each face charges after accusations they worked together to steal and scrap older model vehicles from several locations in the city, according to records released Thursday and Port St. Lucie police officials.
Yonny Torres Parra, 32, and 44-year-old Jorge Jimenez each were arrested on nine felony counts of grand theft motor vehicle while Parra also was arrested on nine felony counts of criminal use of personal identification in connection with the incidents.
Officer Tom Nichols, police spokesman, identified Jimenez as a tow truck driver and said Parra works for a vending machine company filling machines.
In early August, police went to an address in the 2700 block of Southwest Drake Court and spoke to a man who said his 1988 Ford Mustang GT with no tag had been taken from the swale in front of his home.
The man contacted several salvage yards in St. Lucie County, including A&A Auto Salvage in the 3600 block of North U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce. He learned the salvage yard had his vehicle. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office recovered the Mustang, and the man positively identified it.
Port St. Lucie police detectives contacted the owner of A&A Auto Salvage and learned "Yonny," later identified as Parra, and "Jorge," later identified as Jimenez, transported the stolen Mustang to the business and sold it.
Jimenez was in a flatbed tow truck with the Mustang aboard, while Parra arrived in a black truck. Parra had a filled out "Derelict Motor Vehicle Certificate And Request To Cancel Title" form to sell the vehicle. Parra got $450 for the Mustang.
Nichols said the form comes from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and is required to be completed by the owner/seller of a vehicle or trailer to a scrap yard or a secondhand metals dealer. To qualify, a vehicle must be worth less than $1,000 and be at least 10 years old. A trailer must be at least 10 years old and must be worth less than $5,000, Nichols said.
Detectives learned Parra had sold about 25 vehicles to A&A Auto Salvage, with 12 being confirmed as stolen within Port St. Lucie. Six more vehicles were confirmed as being reported stolen to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.
Jimenez transported the 12 vehicles to the salvage yard, while Parra completed the "Derelict Motor Vehicle Certificate And Request To Cancel Title" form.
Police Detective Chris D'Angelo said Parra went looking for older model vehicles and legitimately purchased a handful of them with the owner/seller legitimately filling out the form. D'Angelo said Parra then found vehicles to steal and used forged paperwork based on information from the legitimate paperwork to scrap the stolen vehicles.
Investigators said Jimenez, of the 2400 block of Southeast Charleston Drive in Port St. Lucie, and Parra, of the 300 block of Southwest Prima Vista Boulevard in Port St. Lucie, are friends.