AUSTIN, Texas - Travis County deputies say a man was basically running a stolen car lot in Austin through Craigslist. Customers had their suspicions and helped deputies make an arrest.
This Macaroni Grill off Stassney Lane in South Austin is one of six places auto theft detectives say thieves hit this week. By the time the owner of the vehicle finished their meal, the suspects were well on their way to making a profit.
"They're stealing them and then within a matter of hours they're creating a key, even a key fob for the alarm, they're not changing license plates or anything and they're putting them on Craigslist and selling it within a couple hours," said Sgt. Chris Roland.
Sgt. Chris Roland says department of motor vehicles staff contacted the sheriff's office multiple times on Monday and Tuesday to report people coming in with faulty titles after just having purchased vehicles off Craigslist.
Roland showed us one of the documents, "At first appearance, if you're not really, really looking and I just throw that at you. It looks good, it looks real good."
One of the customers checked the title information out before purchase. He discovered it was forged and the vehicle was stolen and got deputies involved.
He lead them to the location of the truck for sale. Deputies say Alfonzo Hensley was waiting.
"We didn't waste any time. We just jumped out on it and caught a suspect with the truck. He had the key and a key fob in his pocket and arrested him," said Roland.
Deputies charged Hensley with felony theft.
Deputies have since connected him to five crimes. The Austin police department has linked him to one theft, but officers say more are possible.
Craigslist customers, Roland says, were out anywhere between four and six thousand dollars. When it comes to shopping for vehicles online, Roland has this advice.
"All of them got suspicious because the guys came out of nowhere. They only operated in cash. They wouldn't present a driver's license when asked. They got squirrely when you started asked questions. And that's a big key indicator. Always ask a lot of questions and the more squirrely they get, your hair should raise on your neck that you should walk away that it's too good a deal to be true," said Roland.
If you have suspicions about a title, you can go to the DMV website and pay five dollars to verify the information. Click here.
Hensley has been released from the Travis County Jail on bond despite the fact that he is on probation for aggravated robbery.
Auto theft detectives say he is wanted for more theft charges. They urge you to call 9-1-1 if you see him.