Detective Michael Griffith & Inspector Chase Mason
It is my honor to nominate Detective Michael Griffith, of Winston Salem (NC) Police Department and Inspector Chase Mason of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles-License & Theft Bureau for the Southeast International Association of Auto Theft Investigators Award of Merit. Beginning in December 2014 Detective Michael Griffith became aware of a suspicious vehicle bearing a stolen license plate from a similar make/model vehicle. Detective Griffith contacted Inspector Chase Mason and together the two investigators worked tirelessly to locate that suspicious vehicle. The investigators identified that suspicious vehicle, bearing a stolen tag from a similar make/model vehicle, as a stolen vehicle. The easiest, most expedient, measure would have been for the investigators to merely recover that first stolen vehicle right then and there. That would have sufficed for many and would have resulted in a stolen vehicle recovery; however, these investigators went well above and beyond a mere recovery. These investigators chose to dig deeper and work harder.
For the next several weeks the investigators would sometimes come into work as early as 3:00 am to follow-up on the suspect vehicles. They worked late into the night, and on the weekends, in an attempt to bring their investigation to a successful conclusion. Their efforts ultimately resulted in the identification and recovery of seven stolen vehicles, valued in excess of $200,000.00. Also as a direct result of their investigation, the two investigators were also responsible for solving at least nine commercial burglaries to franchise car dealerships in/around the Piedmont Triad Region of North Carolina. The damages/monetary losses incurred during these burglaries is still under review; however, each burglary resulted in the loss of multiple sets of tires, as well as loss of revenue due to the business interruption in the days following the burglaries.
The primary suspect has been identified and arrested. He has twice been convicted and served multiple year prison terms for multiple vehicle thefts, operating a chop shop, and a variety of other vehicle-related crimes. He is no stranger to the criminal justice system and can certainly be considered as a career criminal. His actions of stealing license plates, from similar make/model vehicles, and constantly replacing those stolen plates with “fresh” plates, indicates his knowledge of law enforcement’s investigative efforts. His apprehension is a testament of the tireless efforts of Detective Griffith and Inspector Mason. Their above and beyond performance is worthy of recognition.