Photo: example of a 1997 Toyota RAV 4
On September 7, 2019, 62-year old Juan Camilo Vargas parked his 1997 Toyota RAV4 in front of his Escondido home. The following morning, he stepped out to find his vehicle stolen. This is what he reported to the Escondido Police Department and his insurance company. He was issued a check for $4,165 by his insurance company as a result.
The San Diego County Regional Auto Theft Task Force, comprised of the California Department of Insurance, San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol, looked into Vargas’ claim. What they discovered was Vargas driving his RAV4 into Mexico on August 25, 2019. Border Patrol confirmed this with a photo. U.S. Customs and Border Protection followed up by confirming Vargas drove a different vehicle, registered to his name, back to the U.S. that same day.
Vargas was interviewed by the Department of Insurance and admitted to the detective his car was stolen in Mexico but feared his insurance would not cover the theft in Mexico, which is why he said it happened in Escondido. Vargas was correct, his insurance policy would not have covered the theft had he accurately reported it, therefore he was issued a payout he was not entitled to receive.
In lying about the details of the theft, Vargas committed insurance fraud and reported a false vehicle theft. He was arrested for multiple felony counts of related charges on November 3, 2020 and booked at the Vista Detention Facility with bail set at $25,000. He was released on bond until his next trial date where the case will be prosecuted by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.