Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. MICHAEL, Minn. (WCCO) — A bright yellow IROC Z-28 Camaro isn’t exactly your typical family car. So, with another child on the way, Katie Ortega did what many young parents would do — she put it on Craigslist.
It wasn’t long afterward that the phone rang and a prospective buyer wanted to meet.
“We set up a time to meet and he said it was the car of his dreams and he was sure he wanted it,” Ortega said.
But when 38-year-old Cory Wojcik of Elk River handed Katie cash for the car and drove away, she had a sinking feeling something wasn’t quite right.
Wojcik simply peeled off 28 $100 dollar bills from his pocket. The $2800 she was asking seemed to be no problem for him. On the vehicle’s title he wrote down a fictitious name, claiming to be a “Tom McNair.”
Katie grew suspicious, so she took the wad of cash to a nearby convenience store to have the money checked by a clerk. Ortega said that’s when the dread really set in.
“The marker stayed a black color. He (the store clerk) said they’re counterfeit. He went through ‘em and checked a couple more and said they’re all counterfeit,” she said.
Ortega and her husband had been scammed and now had worthless money and no Camaro. They called the Wright County Sheriff’s Department and reported the stolen car. Within 90 minutes, a deputy had the car spotted. Wojcik was driving the stolen vehicle on Highway 24 in Clearwater. The deputy followed him until Wojcik hit a dead end and had to turn around.
“Fortunately for us he took a dead end road, where a bridge was out. He then turned around and the deputy put on the emergency lights. That began a chase for about nine miles,” said Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty.
When Wojcik wouldn’t stop, deputies placed “stop sticks,” bars with large spikes, onto the roadway. When Wojcik hit the device it immediately blew out the two driver side tires, sending him into a ditch. He got out and ran from the scene but was quickly tackled and arrested.
Katie’s car will be returned to her, a little dented and worse for the wear. She’s now certain to be a little wiser the next time a buyer comes knocking.
“This time we learned our lesson, to be very careful,” Ortega said.