After the equivalent of a parking lot of Zipcars vanished in a six-week stint — the Examiner say it was 81 vehicles, the Chronicle says 76 — things were looking a little suspicious. But then alleged serial car thief Ray Charles Dipo, a.k.a. Nicole Dipo, was arrested in April, charged with stealing five of them. Police say that a search of Dipo's house led them to nine Zipcar access cards and eight devices to override their ignitions. And soldering tools.
So, police let Dipo go — she was released on her own recognizance over objection from the district attorney. The very next day she was taken into custody when caught in another Zipcar in front of her house. In fact, she's charged with stealing that one and another for a total of seven.
That, prosecutors say, could be the tip of the iceberg. With Dipo in custody, Zipcar thefts have dropped off. Seemingly prolific, Dipo could well be responsible for many of them, though perhaps it is also likely that her arrest has made others think twice before soldering their way into that Zipcar.
Dipo's arrest was the result of a multiagency effort, including the district attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, the San Francisco Police Department, auto theft experts from the California Highway Patrol, and Zipcar’s security team. The alleged thief sure sounds like she was difficult to nab.
Dipo pled not guilty to all seven counts of auto theft, and is being held in lieu of $225,000 bail. She'll be back in court June 4.
Related: Car Burglaries And Thefts Are Way Up Over Last Year