Man arrested for stealing cars at Phoenix health clubs

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 10:50 AM

PHOENIX -- Phoenix police arrested a man suspected in several car thefts at health clubs over the past two months.

Police believe Richard Cory Barker, 45, followed the victims into two workout facilities in northeast Phoenix then broke into their lockers as they worked out and removed personal property, including car keys.

Police said Barker is responsible for four vehicle thefts in December and January. Two of those cars were recovered by officers and two others were advertised on Craigslist.

"Right before Christmas I decided to purchase a used car for my stepson," said Chris Skiba.

He said he used Craigslist to find a 2001 Mercedes advertised for sale by Barker.

"He was extraordinarily smooth," Skiba said.

Skiba said everything seemed OK so he gave Barker $8,900 for the car but when they went to register it, he was told there was a problem with the title. Police say it was fraudulent.

"Now I know in my heart it's a stolen car," Skiba said. "I can't understand how you look someone straight in the face knowing what he's about to do to us and smile and say, 'Merry Christmas.'"

On Monday, undercover detectives found another stolen vehicle advertised online and posed as potential buyers. Barker was taken into custody near 44th Street and Campbell Avenue.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos said credit cards belonging to a victim who had been burglarized at a workout facility were found in his possession along with equipment used to forge documents.

Martos said people buying a car from a private party need to be careful. 

"We would recommend people do these transactions at a bank or the MVD where they can verify the vehicle is not stolen property," he said.

Barker was booked on multiple felony counts, including vehicle theft, taking the identity of another, trafficking stolen property, credit card theft, forgery and burglary.

His bond was set at $75,000.

According to court documents, Barker has numerous felony convictions in California.

Police remind everyone to use caution when purchasing property from online websites as individuals have been known to use the sites to traffic stolen property. In addition, they advise using payment forms other than cash.

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