Family Out $34,000 After Purchasing Truck and Learning It Was Stolen

Buyer set up Facebook account to sell a truck that police say was stolen last month out of Houston

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A family is out more than $30,000 after police say a thief sold them a stolen vehicle with fraudulent paperwork.

It’s something North Texas police departments say they see often, but it came as a major surprise and disappointment to the buyer.

From the pictures, it’s a good-looking truck, a gray 2019 GMC pickup. The one Juan Ruiz wanted. The one he drove nine hours from El Paso to purchase on Sunday.

“Now we’re on our way back home,” his son Assael Ruiz said.

The younger Ruiz shared the buying experience and regret with NBC 5 while his father sat in the driver seat but not in the truck they bought just hours before.

“We’re sad and annoyed by how they robbed us – like it was nothing,” Ruiz said.

The Ruiz’s said they met a buyer over Facebook and drove from West Texas to a parking lot in Arlington on Sunday afternoon.

The seller provided a vehicle identification number and a Texas title that appeared legitimate.

Ruiz paid $34,000 in cash and drove the truck away. Assael Ruiz said his father immediately started second-guessing his purchase and went to the police.

White Settlement Police Chief Christopher Cook worked the investigation with the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force and said he ran a check on the temporary license plate tag for the pickup and it came back belonging to a trailer.

Red flag number one.

“It had a Texas title that appeared pretty authentic,” Cook said.

However, when Cook entered the VIN into the Texas Department of Insurance, it was not registered in any state.

“If you run a VIN and there’s no record and it doesn’t match the sequencing of a typical GM product, yeah that’s a red flag,” Cook said. “This guy is out $34,000 cash. The likelihood of recovering that money is really slim.”

Cook added pickup truck thefts have increased in Texas in recent years with many stolen in one part of the state and sold in another.

Cook added the stolen pickup the Ruiz’s purchased on Sunday was a 2023 model stolen out of Houston in early February and then priced as 2019 to not arouse buyer suspicion.

The Ruiz’s hope sharing their story on their long drive back home will maybe protect another buyer.

“Right now he should be driving the truck but we’re in the same car we came in,” Assael Ruiz added.

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