KXAN (AUSTIN) - He was a smooth car salesman who vanished nearly one year ago.
"This guy was good at what he was doing," said Austin police Cpl. Anthony Hipolito.
From a small body shop near the corner of North Lamar and Braker, police say Jose Urrutia, 46, would promise customers repairs and then post their car on Craigslist and sell it.
He would convince a number of people to put money down on the same car, according to police. When they came back to pick up the car, it was often gone.
Michelle Chrisner was one of the few that ended up with a new car. She later learned Jeep Liberty she bought from Urrutia belonged to someone else and told police.
"When the detective said [Urrutia] came in to give a statement and they let him go I thought that's it, he's long gone. He's never going to be found," said Chrisner.
Police filed three felony theft warrants several months later and could not find him. They thought he might have skipped town.
But Monday, officers found him while running the license plate number on a car parked at the Howard Johnson motel in South Austin.
"Jose Urrutia was sitting in a Mustang and it came back to a Jeep," said Hipolito. "That's a big red flag when an officer runs a license plate and it comes back to a totally different car."
Officers figure out who they were dealing with after a line of questioning and a driver's license check.
"A ton of bricks just lifted off my shoulders," said Chrisner.
She hopes the justice system will help her and others recoup the money they have lost, but she knows that might not happen.
"If he sits his butt in jail for a few years, I'll be happy," said Chrisner.
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