SANTA ANA, Calif. – A $300,000 Ferrari stolen in California was recovered after the alleged car thief ran out of gas and began begging for money.
Israel Perez Rangel, 38, was arrested in Santa Ana after he went to a Mobile gas station in the luxury car and started asking people for money so he could buy gas, police said.
The Ferrari 458 Spider was treated poorly after it was stolen and was in bad shape. It had cracked fins, a destroyed gearbox and vomit dripping down the side of the vehicle, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The vehicle was reported stolen two weeks ago when owner Susan Friedman was unable to collect her car from the Ferrari & Maserati of Newport Beach service center in Costa Mesa.
According to security footage, a man wearing a Ferrari jacket drove off with the vehicle after he found the key had been left on the passenger seat. Yet employees did not realize the high-end sports car was missing for nearly 27 hours.
“It was just like ‘Gone in 60 Seconds,” Friedman told the LA Times, referencing Nicolas Cage’s 2000 film.
“I’m like in a shock,” she said. “This whole last month has been a nightmare.”
Friedman initially theorized an organized crime ring shipped off the white, 2015 exotic sports car, which would not be unusual for thefts of this nature. Other possibilities included a chop-shop where stolen vehicles are taken apart and then reassembled and registered as salvaged vehicles.
However, there were reports of someone erratically driving a fancy vehicle in Santa Ana. And then, Rangel ran out of gas, police said.
When a patrol officer arrived at the gas station, Rangel was seen begging for gas money. When he saw police, he ran. But he didn’t get very far. He was found hiding nearby.
“After running away from the vehicle, the suspect was arrested behind the bushes at the entrance to the Holiday Inn,” said Anthony Bertagna, spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.
Rangel has a long criminal history, including vehicle theft, drug possession, resisting arrest, shoplifting, possession of a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a switchblade, criminal threats, evading a peace officer with reckless driving and buying or receiving a stolen vehicle or equipment, according to the Los Angeles Times.
William Story, owner and president of Ferrari & Maserati of Newport Beach, did not return a call to the Times seeking comment Monday.
Friedman’s insurance company wrote her a check for the damaged vehicle, which she used to buy a 2018 Lamborghini Huracán.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Rangel has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of vehicle theft with a prior felony conviction of driving or taking a vehicle, grand theft auto with a prior conviction, and vandalism. He also faces a possible sentencing enhancement on allegations of theft over $200,000, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
(Booking photo: Santa Ana Police Department)