ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - He appeared to be legit. A tow truck driver selling damaged vehicles to a scrap yard. One problem, Kentucky State Police say all the cars had been stolen.
Police say Ronnie Cole Junior, 27, stole and scrapped more than a dozen cars in Rowan County in just a three week period, now the scrap yard is working with police to to track down the car owners.
"I was surprised, because he didn't seem suspicious," said Karen Pettit, owner of Pettit Mountain Metals in Morehead.
Pettit told WKYT she's also angry. "Because we are out quite a bit of money, money we will likely never get back from him."
In all, she says, Cole sold her 16 stolen vehicles, mostly older models. "His paperwork seemed legitimate, we did detailed background check and everything," Pettit said.
Her detailed record-keeping later helped investigators determine those vehicles were all stolen.
"The owners we found later had know idea where their cars went," she said.
According to the arrest citation, Cole used a black tow-truck with "Sonny's Towing" written on the side to carry out the thefts.
We did some digging this afternoon in Rowan County Court, where we found this isn't the first time Cole's been in trouble with the law. Since 2003 he's been in the Rowan County Jail nine times on assault to theft charges.
"He's a real good guy, I don't know if he did it, or not," said Cole's brother-in-law, who asked we not use his name. "We are just asking for all the prayers we can get right now."
It remains unclear where the stolen cars came from, that remains under investigation by KSP.
"I don't trust hardly anyone anymore," Pettit said. She's now doing what she can to help the victims, even though she's one of them.
"This is something I hope I never have to deal with again," she ended.
Ronnie Cole Jr. remains behind bars in the Rowan County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond. He declined WKYT's request for an interview.