San Diego man charged in luxury car rental scheme

A San Diego man was charged with theft in connection with a multi-million dollar scheme involving the theft of luxury cars throughout Riverside County. Photo provided by Riverside County District Attorney’s Office

By SDCN Editor

Murrieta, CA–A San Diego man has been charged in a multi-million dollar scheme involving the theft of luxury cars throughout Riverside County. 

Gabriel Dean Watters, 47, pleaded not guilty on Nov. 30 to 12 felonies, which include embezzlement, car theft, and buying or receiving stolen vehicles. Kendall Jamison Clark, 25 of Murrieta, was also charged in the case. 

A second amended complaint was filed Thursday by Deputy District Attorney Timothy Brown of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Felony Prosecution Unit. The complaint details a total of 30 felony charges for Clark, reflecting the discovery and recovery of more stolen cars, such as a 2021 Porsche Boxter, a 2021 Lamborghini Aventador, a 2022 Tesla Model Y, and a 2022 Lamborghini Urus.

Investigators from the Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID) began an investigation into the thefts in September when the owners of several luxury cars reported that vehicles they had rented to Clark were never returned. When the owners tried to report the vehicles as stolen, they learned their names had been taken off the titles.

Clark was arrested in San Diego on Oct. 18. Following the arrest, investigators discovered Watters was buying the stolen cars from Clark at prices substantially lower than their real value. Watters would meet up with Clark at locations throughout Riverside County, pay him for a group of cars, and then take the cars to other locations, including Mexico, where he would attempt to sell them again. Members of the RAID Task Force arrested Watters at the San Diego International Airport on Nov. 27 as he was trying to fly to San Francisco. He’s now being held on $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center.

Clark previously pleaded not guilty to all charges. He was released from custody on $250,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear at the Southwest Justice Center for a felony settlement conference on Dec. 14. Watters is expected to return to court for a felony settlement conference and bail review hearing on Dec. 8. 

RAID is a county-wide task force composed of detectives from county law enforcement agencies that, in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office, investigate and prosecute organized vehicle and vehicle-related theft, including vehicle theft rings, chop shops, title washing operations, and VIN switching schemes.

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