Man faces ten charges in stolen pickup investigation


January 3, 2018

A pipeline company reported a pickup stolen in Dewey County in September 2017. The pickup was believed to have been located at a job site in Alfalfa County, and the sheriff’s office was asked to investigate.

According to court papers, Richard Cooper from Gateway Pipeline Company talked to Alfalfa County Dispatch by phone on Dec. 15 saying a 2016 Chevrolet single cab pickup had been stolen from a job site in Dewey County in September. The theft had been reported to the Dewey County Sheriff’s Office.

Cooper said he believed he had located the stolen pickup on a current job site a half mile east of County Road 510 on Carter Road. He said a man working for his company had driven the pickup to the site that day. Cooper said the pickup had been spray painted red and that when it was stolen it had a flatbed on it but now had a box style bed and an Oklahoma license plate attached. Cooper provided the license number which Rockenbach ran through dispatch. It came back as registered to a four door Dodge car.

Rockenbach drove to the location with Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Agent Brandon Powell. They located the pickup parked along the east side of a pipeline right of way just south of Carter Road. Rockenbach talked to the job-site foreman, Matthew Farmer, who was aware of why law enforcement was there. He pointed out the pickup and the man who had driven it to the site, identified as Victor Rios.

The officers asked Rios to show them the pickup he drove to work, and he pointed out the red Chevrolet 3500 HD dually pickup. Rockenbach explained they believed it was stolen, and Rios appeared surprised. When asked about the license plate, Rios said he had taken it off his car and put it on the pickup so he could avoid being stopped by law enforcement.

Rockenbach asked if they could verify the VIN number on the pickup to check if it was stolen. Rios gave permission to look for the VIN number in the various locations on the pickup. Rockenbach found the number had been removed from the lower corner of the driver’s side windshield and the sticker located on the driver’s side door or door frame had also been removed. He looked along the frame rail of the pickup on the driver’s side and was unable to locate the number.

While looking over the pickup, Rockenbach saw several indications the pickup had originally been white but had been spray painted red. He asked if they could look under the hood for a VIN number. Rios opened the hood, and Rockenbach noted the engine compartment was white. The stolen pickup was described as having a fuel tank/toolbox combo mounted on the flatbed. Rockenbach saw this pickup had a fuel tank/toolbox combo in the bed.

Agent Powell began asking Rios about the missing VIN numbers while Rockenbach continued to look for the number. Rios began to get agitated and tried to avoid questions. While looking at the driver’s door Agent Powell saw a handheld butane torch, which is commonly used for smoking narcotics. He asked Rios about the torch, and Rios changed the subject, denying consent to search the interior of the pickup. He said he only gave permission to look at the outside. He said he was contacting his lawyer and they were not allowed to look any further.

Deputy Rockenbach contacted Sheriff Rick Wallace to come to the location for assistance and to get his opinion on the matter. Rockenbach asked Rios for his identification, and he said he didn’t have to give it to him. Rios said he could get in the pickup and leave anytime he wanted. Rockenbach said he was impounding the pickup, and since Rios had already stated he did not have a driver’s license he could not drive the pickup.

Rockenbach obtained Rios’ date of birth from work records with the help of Farmer. He contacted dispatch to check for outstanding warrants. It was found Rios had an arrest warrant from another county. Rios was taken into custody. A wrecker was called to take the pickup to the sheriff’s office until Rockenbach could obtain a search warrant.

Later Rockenbach obtained a search warrant so he could enter the pickup and verify the VIN number from the vehicle’s computer. Powell assisted with the search. After entering the pickup, Powell discovered a Winchester sawed off shotgun behind the seat with two rounds in the magazine.

The pickup was taken to the local dealership where a service technician hooked up the vehicle’s computer and obtained the VIN number. It matched the number for the pickup reported stolen.

Rockenbach, Powell and Wallace conducted an inventory of the vehicle. A pair of bib overalls was located. In the chest pocket was found a clear plastic baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. The officers also inventoried all the tools before the pickup was turned over to a wrecker company for impoundment.

Victor Rios Jr., 34, of Clinton has been charged with five felonies: (1) possession of stolen vehicle, (2) possession of sawed off shotgun/rifle, (3) possession firearm after former felony conviction, (4) unauthorized use of a vehicle, and (5) knowingly concealing stolen property.

In regard to the former felony conviction in No. 3, Rios was found to have been convicted of unlawful possession of controlled substance, a felony, on Jan. 9, 2014, in Custer County.

Rios is also charged with five misdemeanor counts: (1) removing proper or affixing improper license plate, (2) altering license plate/decal, (3) obstructing officer, (4) unlawful possession of


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