By Aaron Blevins, 4/05/2012
Throughout 2010, Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) detectives conducted an investigation regarding the theft of numerous classic Mercedes Benz vehicles, committed throughout Los Angeles County.
During the investigation, on Nov. 23, 2010, a suspect was discovered by law enforcement physically pushing a stolen, classic Mercedes Benz and another vehicle in Hollywood. The suspect evaded law enforcement and fled the scene. Through DNA evidence and latent fingerprints, the suspect was later identified as Michael Green, 58, of Los Angeles.
On Sept. 18, 2011, actor John Travolta’s classic 1970 Mercedes Benz 280 SL convertible was reported stolen to the Santa Monica Police Department. TRAP detectives received this information along with a tip that Green and a second suspect, D.L. Rayford, 52, of Los Angeles, had stolen it. Based on this information, TRAP detectives conducted a surveillance operation on Green and Rayford in an attempt to locate Travolta’s vehicle and other stolen vehicles.
After extensive surveillance, detectives followed Green to an unlicensed auto repair facility. During a business inspection of the Los Angeles repair facility, detectives uncovered a chop shop, where stolen vehicles are disassembled and the parts are sold for profit.
Detectives detained Green, who confessed to stealing numerous vehicles, cutting up Travolta’s vehicle and selling the parts to vehicle restorers. Green also admitted he stole more than 30 classic cars over a two-year period and was already on felony probation for auto theft. Rayford was later questioned and admitted to helping steal and hide Travolta’s Mercedes Benz.
On Dec. 19, 2011, Rayford was arrested for grand theft-automobile by TRAP detectives and booked. Rayford was convicted and sentenced to 1-1/2 years in state prison.
On Dec. 6, 2011, Green was arrested for owning/operating a chop shop by TRAP detectives and booked at the Santa Monica Police Department. On March 28, 2012, in the Los Angeles County Airport Court, Green was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in state prison.