Contra Costa Sheriff Investigators Say They’ve Busted a Serial Airplane Thief

July 10, 2024
The 28-year-old suspect, a California resident, has been charged with six felonies.

CONCORD — It might sound like the plot of a Carmen Sandiego episode, but police here say they really caught a man attempting to pull off the theft of multiple airplanes.

The 28-year-old suspect, a Concord resident, has now been charged with six felonies, including attempted grand theft and attempted fraud. It all started when a local airplane owner learned of a pending sale of his plane, which he had not authorized nor had any prior knowledge of, police said.

When the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office investigated the report, they were able to find other airplane owners who’d had similar experiences. It led them back to the Concord man, who claimed to be an airplane broker who was assisting local pilots with the buying and selling of airplanes, according to court records.

But police have a different theory: they believe the man would contact airplane owners posing as an interested potential buyer, ask detailed questions about their plane, then use those details to set up fake online ads for the plane. To help ensure a sale, the planes would be offered at prices well below market value, authorities said. The end goal was to sell planes that weren’t really his, pocket the money and disappear, according to prosecutors.

Police say they found footage of the man accessing planes at the Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, and that he was found in possession of several airplane keys and documents related to the sale of airplanes. The suspect is out on bail while his case is pending, and is next due in court on July 11, records show.

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