A Los Angeles police officer has been charged with stealing a truck from a dealership in Orange and driving the stolen pickup more than a year after changing its status to recovered, prosecutors said Monday.
Matthew Calleros, a 45-year-old Whittier resident, pleaded not guilty Monday to the three felonies and three misdemeanors he’s facing. They include unlawful taking of a vehicle, forging a license plate, false personation and unauthorized disclosure of information from state DMV records, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Calleros allegedly went to B&J Car Co. on Chapman Avenue on Oct. 25, 2019, and drove a 2015 Chevy Silverado off the lot after asking a salesman to pull a Carfax report on the truck.
Gino Gonzalez, a sales manager at the used car lot, told KTLA last November that he remembered Calleros coming in and walking straight to the Silverado, seeming very interested.
Gonzalez says he showed Calleros around the truck, opening the hood and starting the engine. He walked to his office after being asked for the Carfax report, and heard the hood shut before he got to his office door.
“I turned around and he was already climbing into the truck, and he proceeded to drive off,” Gonzalez said.
Surveillance video from the dealership shows Gonzalez running after the truck as it was driven away.
After stealing the truck, Calleros used another L.A. police officer’s ID to call his department’s Vehicle Warrant Unit to report the pickup had been recovered, prosecutors said.
Officials also allege he accessed the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS), a confidential database connecting public safety agencies statewide, to run checks on his stolen truck’s license plate number and a plate number for a 2014 Silverado that he put on the stolen pickup.
Prosecutors say Calleros drove the stolen vehicle for more than a year, including to work as a police officer. The pickup was found in the employee parking lot at LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division when Calleros was arrested last year on Nov. 9.
According to LAPD, it learned of the investigation in late September and “fully cooperated” with Orange police, leading to Calleros’ identification and arrest.
The department said Monday it has relieved Calleros’ police officer powers and that he has been assigned to home.
Gonzalez was shocked when he heard an LAPD officer was arrested in the case.
“That’s the last thing you ever think,” he said. “There’s people out there that are corrupt and out stealing, and you figure a policeman’s out there to defend and protect. That’s the last thing you want to hear.”
Orange County DA Todd Spitzer also condemned the alleged crimes.
“Every time an officer’s actions erodes the public trust, it undermines the rule of law,” he said in a statement.
Calleros could face up to four years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged, the DA’s office said.
The defendant has been released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to return to court April 15.