A Yuma couple has been arrested for allegedly falsely reporting their car was stolen in an attempt to defraud their insurance company.
According to Capt. Eben Bratcher of the Yuma County Sheriff's Office, deputies received a report of a stolen vehicle at 8:37 a.m. March 23 from a home in the 3000 block of East Sombra Lane. The reporting party, identified as 49-year-old Isabel Christina McBee, told deputies that her 2012 Lincoln Navigator, worth approximately $72,000, was missing from her residence.
“This was really, really good heads-up police work by the deputy who responded to the call,” Bratcher said. “He figured out this was something more than your standard stolen vehicle.”
Bratcher said the deputy who took the report became suspicious of McBee when she could not produce the vehicle's spare key, stating that it was kept in a safe to which she did not know the combination. During the deputy's investigation, it was discovered that the vehicle's key was equipped with a security chip, which the vehicle needed to be started.
The case was turned over to the YCSO's Criminal Investigations Division, whose detectives discovered that records indicated the vehicle crossed the border into Mexico in the early morning hours of March 22, a full day prior to when McBee claimed to have last seen it. Video surveillance provided by the U.S. Port of Entry in San Luis, Ariz., further showed McBee entering into the U.S. on foot only 42 minutes after the vehicle had left the country.
Bratcher said during an interview with detectives on Tuesday, McBee admitted that she took the car into Mexico, leaving it and the key with a relative. She further admitted to having filed a false report of the vehicle's theft to law enforcement and her insurance company.
During the interview, McBee reportedly revealed that her husband, Patrick McBee, was aware of the scheme because she had told him about it.
Isabel McBee was booked into the Yuma County Adult Detention Center on charges of fraudulent schemes and theft. She made her initial appearance in Yuma Justice Court on Wednesday and was released on her own recognizance.
On Wednesday, sheriff's investigators spoke with Patrick McBee in reference to his involvement in this case. He declined to speak to investigators and was subsequently booked into the Adult Detention Center on charges of fraudulent schemes and theft.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.