While responding to a report of an idling vehicle in the Sequim Safeway parking lot, Sequim Police officers found themselves checking plates on a possibly stolen car.
The driver was Jared Baker, 26, of Port Angeles, who was booked into Clallam County Jail and charged June 26 with possessing stolen property in the first degree and trafficking in stolen property in the second degree.
The stolen property in question is the 2006 Dodge Charger that Baker reportedly was driving. Washington State Patrol reported the Charger was likely one of dozens of cars involved in an elaborate vehicle identification number swapping operation.
Alleged co-conspirators stole the vehicle from an automobile dealership in Snohomish County and after stealing the car they took the vehicle identification number plate and switched it with one from a car of the same make and model in a wrecking yard.
However, there are other places on the car where the original identification number is located and police officers were able to locate those numbers and track the Chargers origins back to Snohomish County, where it was reported stolen in the same manner as dozens of other vehicles expected to be under new identification numbers at this time.
Sequim Police transported Baker to Port Townsend to speak with a State Patrol investigator from Seattle. But officers were forced to take him to the hospital first to have his hand and arm looked at for injuries after he reportedly punched a wall.
When first contacted by the investigator, Baker reportedly indicated he did not know the origins of the vehicle and that it was on loan while he had his own vehicle painted in California.
However, after additional questioning, Baker allegedly indicated he drove the vehicle to Washington from California in the hopes of transferring the cars title over to the California man who gave him the Charger to drive, adding that it was not his intent to possess stolen property.
Baker allegedly said he kept his life savings of $19,000 in small and large bills with him, which were reportedly in the vehicle.
State Patrol will continue to investigate the case while Baker will be required to appear in Clallam County Superior Court for the two charges.
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