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Vegas Undercover: Hansen's back in Sin City

Chris Hansen is back with the Las Vegas undercover police operations, and this time, alleged pimps, car thieves, and shoplifters are confronted by Dateline NBC's hidden-camera footage — and stopped in their tracks.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

The lights of Las Vegas flash day and night, beckoning her visitors to let loose and let it roll. But not far from the dazzling lights, a darker side of Vegas is buzzing with its own kind of action inside this little shop:

Todd McLarey: I have two Malibus.

Shady deals are going down - stolen goods for sale.

J.R.: I just got a plasma. It's a 51-inch.

This guy's cashing in on a truck he carjacked, bragging about beating up the driver.

Brad Youngs: Put him on the f*cking ground and hit one time.  And boom. 

None of these people have any idea that they've just walked into a police sting operation - or that we've tracked down their victims.

Debbie Streeter: I was violated, and he's laughing about it.

On the other side of town, we're on the scene with undercover detectives watching from just yards away as thieves steal cars.

Chris Hansen, Dateline NBC correspondent: The guys jumped in and took off, and now we're following him down the street here.

Cop: Hands up! Get 'em up in the air. 

We're also riding with these cops as they go in search of a violent pimp.

Jessica Rodosh: That's when he hit me in my face.

And we'll be there when the cops bring his victim home.

A few miles away, a career crook goes to work as cameras roll. You'll watch the crime in progress and the capture as it happens. And as you'll see, perhaps the most telling part…

Mario: No, I was not her pimp.

…is when I chat with the suspects.

Chris Hansen: How did you end up getting in this jam?

J.R.: I don't even know what jam I'm in, to be honest with you.

Levi: I wasn't selling stolen cars.

Chris Hansen: You weren't selling stolen cars?

And I'll reveal they've been caught on hidden camera.

Todd McLarey: I've never been caught in a sting operation.

Chris Hansen: Well, you're about to be.

For them, what's happening in Vegas won't be staying here. Tonight we're going to take you on an undercover journey through an underground world. We start with some extraordinary video of criminals - shoplifters, thieves, and worse - at work. They're cool, confident, and totally convinced they'll never be caught.

Then, we'll introduce you to the victims of those crimes - what they've lost can't be measured in just dollars and cents.

And finally, you'll meet the criminals themselves, as they discover they have been caught on hidden camera. It all happens right before your eyes - here on Vegas Undercover.

Sheriff Gillespie: Our vision here at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is to be the safest community in America.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie says he encourages his force of more than 3,000 cops to be creative.

Sheriff Gillespie: Policing cannot just be reactive, you know, when people call you for help.  You have to be proactive. Come up with different ideas, some old, some new. Don't accept just being good.

So the Vegas police find opportunities to catch thieves in the act.

Lt. Bobby Duvall: Lately, car theft here has been jumping. 

As you may remember from our last report, we're once again riding along with Lt. Bobby Duvall who runs the viper squad...a specialized unit formed to combat auto theft. Hundreds of cars are stolen each month in Las Vegas, costing victims millions of dollars. Just three years ago, Vegas led the country in auto theft. But with aggressive policing, the numbers have been dropping.

His team uses specially designed bait cars- rigged with hidden cameras. They leave the vehicles in high crime areas and wait for them to be stolen. Watch how it works. It begins with undercover cops faking a fight; then they appear to abandon the car in the chaos.

Lt. Bobby Duvall: People have fights out on the streets all the time.  And the cars get left behind.

Within minutes, the bait car is stolen. The vehicle is controlled remotely from a laptop.

Lt. Bobby Duvall: We can arm it, disarm it, honk the horn, you can kill the ignition.

The suspect is 27-year-old Marcos Flores. Look how he's covered his hands, presumably to avoid leaving fingerprints. But he needn't have bothered.

Once he's in handcuffs, I get a chance to speak with him.

Chris Hansen: Chris Hansen, Dateline NBC. We're doing a story on auto theft. Can you tell what happened here tonight?

Marcos Flores: Nothing, I just messed up.

Chris Hansen: I'm still having a hard time understanding what you were going to do once you got in the car.  Pick up your girlfriend? Go for a ride? Go to Dairy Queen?

Marcos Flores: Nah, nothing like that.

Flores pleaded guilty to grand larceny auto. Another night, another fake fight, attracting another suspect. The man drives off, having no idea the cops are tracking him. He parks the car, gets out…

Cop: Metro police, stop right there!

…And runs.

Chris Hansen: Yeah how often does this happen, when somebody tries to run?

Lt. Bobby Duvall: Not often...

The cops surround the area.

Cop: He's in here somewhere.  Air unit. We got the air unit coming-- here comes the helicopter.

Chris Hansen: Oh, here come the dogs. So whatever it takes.

Cop: Whatever it takes.

The police give chase for an intense fifteen minutes.

Chris Hansen: There's a chopper up in the air...

Cop: Got him.

Chris Hansen: They got him--

Cop: In custody.

So this is the suspect right here who was missing between this street and the next street over but once they bright the chopper in, the dogs, they were able to flush him out.

The alleged car thief is younger than 18, so he'll be charged as a juvenile.

Chris Hansen: How does it feel to pull this off?

Lt. Bobby Duvall: Feels pretty good. It's another capture.

In Vegas, car theft seems to be an equal opportunity crime--any age- man or woman. Like 25-year-old Tiffany Montoya.

Cop: Here we go. She's in. Female's in there.

The cops tail her. She's startled by the sirens.

Cop: Let me see your hands. Get your hands up.

She says she has no identification, but she offers a creative solution.

Cop: Do you have ID on you, did you say?

Tiffany: Um, no, I have my name tattooed on me though.

Tiffany, who has a prior conviction for prostitution, pleaded guilty to stealing the car. Our next suspect - as we'll learn later - has had too much to drink and his friend on the phone warns him not to take the car- but as you can see he just doesn't listen.

He drives less than a block before he's arrested.

Cop: Let me see your hands!

Elicio Gonzalez: Yeah, right here. (laughs)

He's 44-year-old Elicio Gonzalez. It appears he thinks this is all very funny.

Elicio Gonzalez: I got ahold of my friend.  He told me don't do it. I was stupid.

Cop: OK, so they told you not to do it. You just took a chance or what.

Elicio Gonzalez: I don't know. I don't. I made a stupid thing and I have to pay, have to pay. It was a stupid thing. Because I'm a stupid. (laughs)

Elicio pleaded guilty to grand larceny auto.

Chris Hansen: Now, what's your favorite part about this assignment?

Lt. Bobby Duvall: My favorite part is the catch. 

Lt. Bobby Duvall: Using technology the way we're doing to turn it back on the thieves, to see that look in their face.  When they realize they've been had. Nothing better than that.

So what do thieves do with the cars they steal? Some take them here. You'll see how the Las Vegas police are beating these criminals by joining them.

Debra Streeter: I walked out into the garage and I just looked around and said, "Wow, where's my car?" 

Sometime during the night, as Debbie Streeter slept, a thief sneaked into her garage and stole her 2007 Kia Sorrento.

Debra Streeter: Every time you walk outside, you're lookin' around to see if somebody's watchin' you.  Or at night, you're double-checkin' doors and windows that you never did before. 

So what happens to cars after crooks steal them?

Brittany: Basically, I just robbed him. I just robbed his house or whatever.

As we've shown you, for nearly a year we've been watching this fencing operation from behind the scenes.

Chris Hansen: He has access to all kinds of cars.

A place where thieves come to sell stolen goods to other criminals.

Undercover detective: Hey brother, what's going on?

But the guys behind the counter aren't crooks, they're really undercover detectives. It all happens at this little store tucked away in the shadow of the Vegas strip, meant to look like a shop that sells and installs car audio systems.

Chris Wood: It fires 357 shells and a 338 special.

Undercover detective: Oh, that’s a 357?

It's where we first saw suspects selling guns and cars.

Rusty: I've got $2,000 on me.

...And an alleged counterfeiter making bogus bills. Business at the storefront is still booming. This guy's here to sell a grenade and he's looking for top dollar.

Irish: $300 is what the final sale was for on eBay, that they sell 'em for.

Undercover cop 1: And you know we're not eBay, right?

Irish: Right.

Lt. Dave Logue: We've had people involved in vehicle theft rings.

Lt. Dave Logue oversees the storefront operation. He says most of their customers are career criminals, suspects who have done jail time, and are now out.

Lt. Dave Logue: Some are very violent-- convicted of robbery. People that are ex-felons and this is what they do for a living.

Brad Youngs: What's up, bro.

Officer:  They're on their way right now. 

Meet Brad Youngs, a six-time convicted felon.

Brad Youngs: I'm 29 years old and I've been in prison four times, Homes. 

Brad will turn out to be one of the shop's best customers, bringing in six cars in six weeks.

Undercover Cop: I'll give you 750 for this one.

Brad Youngs: Alright.

But, just as important, he'll spread the word, sending in more thieves- all unaware they're walking into a sting operation.

Brad Youngs: Hello? You found it?

Right now, he's frustrated because his accomplices can't seem to remember where they parked a stolen vehicle.

Brad Youngs: Would you go outside into the parking lot and show these f*cking morons where the truck is, please?

While his cohorts are looking for the stolen truck, brad is here selling a different one. He's eager to tell the undercover officers how he stole it.

Brad Youngs: I said, "I'm gonna pistol whip him in front of the camera."  (laughter)

He says he was in the drive-thru of a fast food place when the driver of the pickup passed him, scraping his car.

He says he was in the drive-thru of a fast food place when the driver of the pickup passed him, scraping his car.

Brad Youngs: I said, "Here we go, dude."  And I got out the car

Brad reenacts how he says he punched his hand right through the driver's window.

Brad Youngs: And I f*ckin' drug him right through the fuckin' window, and put him on the fucking ground and one time.  And ...boom.  You know, dude. It's time to go now.

The driver was black, and Brad is apparently a racist.

Brad Youngs: I don't like n*ggers.  I don't--

Chris Hansen: Well, you--

Brad Youngs: I'm born and bred that way, Homes.  I don't like 'em.

In addition to the two vehicles he's selling today, Brad says he's got a different deal in the works.

Brad Youngs:  I got about 62 altogether.

Chris Hansen: Guns?

Brad Youngs: Pistols and rifles and--

Chris Hansen: No sh*t.

Brad Youngs: But, some of them are 12-gauges, 10-gauges.

He collects his money for the two cars, fourteen hundred dollars, and makes plans to come back soon.

Chris Hansen: --fourteen?  Count that. Should be 14 there. 

Brad Youngs: That's right.

Chris Hansen: Yeah, we're cool.  All right, dude.

Brad Youngs: I appreciate it.

Cops want to know more about brad and his friends--so they let him walk, but keep a close eye on him. Police say decisions like this are always a delicate balance.  The plan is to arrest Brad and all the suspects once the investigation is over.

Undercover detective: Here he comes.

Chris Hansen: What's up dude?  Chris. Nice to meet ya.

Sky: Nice to meet ya.

Four days later, brad is back... This time he's brought a friend with another stolen pickup for sale.

Chris Hansen: Tell you what, I got 860 on me. Would that be all right?

Sky: That'd be cool.

They agree on $860 for the 2005 Ford F150 and Brad takes a cut.

Sky: How much you want?

Here comes another referral. We met her in our last investigation. The drug-addicted mother of three, she calls herself Chevy.  She says brad sent her.

Undercover cop #2: Did Brad tell you what this all about here?

Chevy: Ah, yeah, well, he told me-- he explained it to me a little bit. 

Detectives want to keep spreading the word...and give Chevy incentive to help.

Cop: Everybody who shows up and says your name, you're gonna get some money on the back end.

Chevy: Okay, that the--

Undercover cop #2: The better-- the better it is or whatever it is, the more you'll get. 

A few days later, she's back -- this time, she's brought three friends. The little shop is becoming standing room only.

Chevy: Billy and Levy.

Chris Hansen: Levy--

Levy: What's up?  What's--

Chris Hansen: --what's up, brother, nice to meet you.

Billy's here to sell a car and a gun.

Johnny: I'll do two bills on the car, two bills on the gun.

A week later one of the men, Levy, is back. 

Chris Hansen: You look so much happier than the last time I saw you.

The 22-year-old says he's a tree-trimmer who's just become a father. He says he only steals cars to help support his family.

Levy: I got a full-time job. I mean, I got a family to take care of. I mean, I do my thing, bro.

Chris Hansen: Sh*t comes your way.

Levy: Yeah, exactly.

Today Levy has two cars to sell-- one of them a Kia. Bragging about how he stole it.

Levy: The key was sittin' right next to the car. F*ckin' idiots.

Chris Hansen: Oh, in someone's driveway?

Levy: Yeah. Right next to the car, right on the ground, it's a valet key, whatever, it said valet.

John: In the driveway to the house?

Levy: No, no, the car in the garage.

Debra Streeter: The garage door's still closed.

Which brings us back to Debbie Streeter, the woman you met earlier whose car was stolen while she slept. Levy just sold it to the undercover cops. We showed debbie the hidden camera tape.... She says it was her car but she wasn't careless with her keys the way levi claims.

Debra Streeter: He's laughing and he's happy and he's joking and he-- he thinks it's a big joke.  And that frustrates me 'cause.

Chris Hansen: He's boasting to the undercover officers how he did this.

Debra Streeter: Yeah. I was violated.  And-- and that feels crappy, you know, and he's laughing about it. 

But as you'll see, he won’t be laughing for long...

We're with Vegas police on a manhunt, looking for the man who brutally beat this woman, Jessica Rodosh.

Jessica Rodosh: My eye was swollen shut.  And my lips were swollen. The bruising just started to go down.

The wanted man is Mario Davis -- a pimp accused of taking advantage of young vulnerable women.

Chris Hansen: It's like they're slaves.

Detective Chris Baughman: Where are they gonna go?

Detective Chris Baughman, part of a unique police unit called the pimp investigative team, is passionate about catching pimps - stopping them from victimizing young impressionable women.

Detective Chris Baughman: for me there is no-- no greater reward than possibly rescuing a girl.

He hunts guys like Mario... Men known to enslave women through fear.

Detective Chris Baughman: What they will do is tell the girls, "I know where your family lives at.  If you try to run from me, I'll go to your family and I'll hurt them. I'll shoot them. I'll do-- I'll do whatever to them."

The detective started looking into Mario a year ago.

Detective Chris Baughman: Back in September there was a girl that had came forward that wanted some help.

Her name is Elizabeth Serrano... Both Jessica and Elizabeth worked as prostitutes for Mario- and both say he abused them.

Elizabeth Serrano: He was a good con artist.

Elizabeth says it all started when she was 18 and on her way to becoming a code breaker for the Air Force.

Elizabeth Serrano: I was supposed to be a cryptological linguist.

She was about to be deployed, she says, when she was arrested for joyriding in a stolen car. As a result, the Air Force dropped her.

Elizabeth Serrano: I was already processed.  I was waiting to graduate high school.

Elizabeth says she was sitting in jail when she was approached by another woman in the lockup.

Elizabeth Serrano: She said she had a friend that owned an escort service and she could get me in. 

Out of money and desperate, Elizabeth called the owner of the escort service- Mario Davis. Soon, she was turning tricks.

Elizabeth Serrano: I had a quota.  You know, I had to make that quota.

Chris Hansen: And what was the quota for you?

Elizabeth Serrano: $1,200 to $1,500 a night.

Chris Hansen: And how much of that money did you get to keep?

Elizabeth Serrano: None of it.

She says she tried to leave, but he wouldn't let her.

Elizabeth Serrano: He'd be like, "All right, go pack your stuff."  And then if I actually did it, oh, he'd beat me so severely.

She says she finally escaped when Mario took a trip out of town.

Elizabeth Serrano: He wasn't there to stop me.

Detective Baughman got the case-- and he knew just who he was looking for. Turns out the detective and the pimp went to high school together where Mario was a star basketball player.

Chris Hansen: Did you ever imagine 20 years ago in high school that a basketball star, a year older than you would become a target of one of your major investigations? 

Detective Chris Baughman: Nope.

Chris Hansen: Small town...

Detective Chris Baughman: Small town, man.

The detective arrested his former class-mate and charged him with pandering - selling Elizabeth's body for sex.

Detective Chris Baughman: He admitted being a pimp.  He said he'd been doing it. These girls were drawn to him.

A few months later, when Mario was out on bail, the detective got the call about another abuse case, it was Jessica, the woman we introduced to you earlier.

Jessica Rodosh: My mouth- I can't open it, 'cause my jaw is bruised. Bruises on my arms-- I got kicked in my kidneys.  I was hit in my ribs.

She says she met Davis when she was a vulnerable, drug addicted, 22-year-old.

Chris Hansen: how did he convince you that you'd be better off living a life of prostitution?

Jessica Rodosh: The money-- the cars, the jewelry-- the nice clothes. 

Chris Hansen: They make it sound glamorous?

Jessica Rodosh: Yeah. It sounds good.  And then by that time, you're already attached and you think you love him, or you do love him? You get confused. They make it seems like this is how it should be.

Chris Hansen: How-- can you love a guy that makes you go out every night and try and turn tricks?

Jessica Rodosh: He tells you that he's the only one that would ever love you because of what you do. And you start to believe that after a while.

But Jessica says everything changed just days before we met her---when Mario found a text message from another man....sending him into a jealous rage.

Jessica Rodosh: He-- picked me up and threw me off the couch.                              

Chris Hansen: And what did he do then?

Jessica Rodosh: (crying) He sat on my arms--

Chris Hansen: Pinned you down?

Jessica Rodosh: Uh-huh. That's when he hit me in my face.

She says after the beating, he chopped off her hair.

Jessica Rodosh: I just didn't think it could be me.

Detective Chris Baughman: Is Mario here?

When police enter Mario's house, he isn’t there.  But they find crucial evidence.

Chris Hansen: This is the hair that you recovered?

Officer: Yes, it is.

Hours later, Detective Baughman gets a call from Mario's attorney.  The accused pimp has agreed to turn himself in.

Mario arrives as scheduled outside the jail.

Detective Chris Baughman: Spread your feet? This your phone?

He is given a date to appear in court, and is released on bail.

Chris Hansen: Chris Hansen, with Dateline NBC.  How are you doin'?

That's when I catch up to him.

Chris Hansen: Did you ever beat Jessica? Did you ever beat Elizabeth?

Mario Davis: No.  And in the end, the truth will come out. I say the only thing I'm guilty of is bein' black and havin' a girlfriend that was a prostitute. That's all I'm guilty of. 

Jessica and Elizabeth told us they were just two of at least a dozen women working for Mario.

Mario Davis: There's no crime in havin' ti-- 15-- 15 girlfriends. I'm not married.  I'm still young.

Chris Hansen: There's no crime in having 15 girlfriends.  But the question is were they going out, turning tricks and--

Mario Davis:, what they was--

Chris Hansen: --giving you the money.

Mario Davis: No-- not-- that's what I'm saying'.  NO they wasn't.

Chris Hansen: Well, how do you make your living then?

Mario Davis: Who-- I-- I'm one too.

Chris Hansen: You're one too what?

Mario Davis: Yeah, I'm an escort myself.  I'm an entertainer myself.

Mario might be a male escort -- but now he's a felon.  He pleaded guilty to pandering with force. As part of a plea bargain, he'll be on five years’ probation- Det. Baughman believes for now. He's put Mario out of commission.

Chris Hansen: Has justice been served in this case?

Detective Chris Baughman: I believe yeah, 100%. 100%.

Chris Hansen: But Mario Davis is not behind bars...

Detective Chris Baughman: No, he is not.

Chris Hansen: He took a deal.

Detective Chris Baughman: He did take a deal. He makes one mistake- if he does something wrong, then he goes to prison for anywhere from 8-17 years.

And that's good enough for Jessica's father, who is deeply grateful to Det. Baughman for bringing his only daughter home.

Father: All I did is hold till she fell asleep the best she could.  After-- the detective brought her in.  That's a great guy over there; that's a dedicated man. 

Detective Chris Baughman: When you can help a girl, someone that-- that no one else was able to help, it-- it is-- it is probably the most rewarding thing that I've ever done.

We've been given a front row seat, riding with a squad of detectives who focus only on repeat offenders.

Lt. Ted Lee: We concentrate on career criminals, habitual criminals and repeat offenders. 

Lt. Ted Lee, who heads up this specialized unit, says it's the career criminals who commit most crimes.

Lt. Ted Lee: 20 percent of the people that are committing 80 percent of the crime within a city. 

Convinced these crooks won't stop committing crimes, police here in Vegas, secretly tail them, often catching habitual offenders in the act. Tonight, we're riding with Sgt. Jim Siwi as he and his team follow a suspect named Rodga Jones, a six-time convicted felon.

Lt. Ted Lee: That's the perfect example of a habitual criminal or repeat offender that we deal with every day.

Chris Hansen: Rodga Jones.

Lt. Ted Lee: Rodga Jones is.

So what has Rodga been up to?  Take a look at what he did last October. You're watching a professional shoplifter go to work. Here he is at Frye's electronics store.  Surveillance cameras immediately pick him up and follow him as he heads down the aisle looking like a regular shopper, stopping and browsing. Soon, he makes his move. Watch as he takes a $139 amplifier out of the box, shoves it down his pants and then covers it up with his shirt. Feeling the squeeze, he takes off his belt and ditches it. He heads to the checkout and pays for a different item in his cart.  All looks normal as he exits the store-- but security isn’t fooled, and they move in for the arrest, tackling him. Rodga was charged with a misdemeanor and released.

You'd think that arrest would have scared him.  Not Rodga.  One month later, he enters this convenience store.  When he thinks the coast is clear....he walks into the back room.

Seconds later he comes out with cartons of cigarettes. He hides in an aisle, stuffs them in his coat and walks out. Rodga was arrested and this time charged with grand larceny. He was released on bail and later pleaded not guilty. But his alleged crime spree is still not over. Last spring, he was caught robbing lockers at a 24-hour fitness gym.  Detective Ethan Grimes got the case.

Detective Ethan Grimes: I spent approximately 4 weeks on this case. 

He found out one of the victims was Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi -- a professional acrobat in Cirque Du Soleil's "Mystere."

Chris Hansen: You finish your workout--

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: You go back to your locker--

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi: Yes.

Chris Hansen: What do you see?

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi: there's no clothes, no shoes, no wallet with credit cards,

Everthing was gone.

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi:  I'm so upset. Just need to call right away my wife and tell her to close all my credit cards

But it wasn't just credit cards he needed to worry about. Rodga also allegedly stole Yarsolav's identity...using it to buy a cell phone and even something you might not expect.

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi: I had some calls from-- dentist office.

Chris Hansen: A dentist's office?

Yarsolav Dobrovoloskyi: Yes. She actually asked me if I had been today-- this day in dentist's office.  I said, "No."

Police say Rodga used his identity to get his teeth x-rayed. Detective grimes linked Rodga to the crimes, took one look at his long criminal history, and turned the case over to the repeat offenders unit.

Detective Ethan Grimes: The fresher their information the quicker they can find these people to do surveillance on, and the better chance of watching them commit crime in progress. 

And that's why tonight police have decided to follow Rodga Jones. What are the chances he'll commit a crime while the police-- and our cameras-- are watching?

Detective Ethan Grimes (into radio): And we're set up for an eastbound number 5. We're in a red number 2 turn lane.

As the evening begins, it looks as if Rodga, driving this Cadillac,  may have  changed his ways.  He and his girlfriend head to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. But the night is young. His next stop -- a familiar place - a 24 hour fitness gym.

Detective Ethan Grimes: That's him right there. He's right there are the counter.

It’s a short visit. A few minutes later, Rodga comes out.

Detective Ethan Grimes: We can’t confirm if anything was broken into because a lot of lockers are open with no locks.

Rodga and his girlfriend continue on, stopping at several convenience stores. Seems like he might be up to his old tricks. We've followed him into a couple of stores and it looks like he's going in. While the female's distracting the clerk, while the male subject is appearing to check doors.

But cops don't think he stole anything here -- but what about this next stop at a 7-11?

A surveillance camera rolls as Rodga's girlfriend goes in first, and as she did in the last stop, distracts the clerk. Now here comes Rodga. Watch him go into the backroom.  You can guess what happens next. He takes two large boxes full of cigarettes, and leaves out a back door.

Detective Ethan Grimes: He went in a back room, triggering a, uh, an alarm.

The cops follow him. He heads to this parking lot to meet a man waiting to buy his stolen stash. The police quickly catch him and Rodga is tackled again. Rodga and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Melissa Beatty, are arrested on burglary and grand larceny charges. He doesn't want to talk to police.

Officer: Let’s not even start off this way. That you don't know anything. Then why'd you run? Let’s start off with that one.

But his girlfriend does.

Melissa Beatty: He doesn't tell me what he steals.  He doesn't tell me what he does. He's my boyfriend, and I'm not working right now.  We just got a new house.

She tells them the theft was all Rodga's idea, but admits she was an accomplice.

Melissa Beatty: And that-- if I just would go and look out for him, just to watch for him, to distract, then-- then that's me putting in my share to the rent.  Okay?  Then that's the honest-to-God truth.

Melissa Beatty has pleaded guilty. Also in the parking lot is the man who bought the stolen cigarettes.  Detectives find the two crates and 1500 in cash in his car. His name is Norm Monseur, and he owns a small Vegas smokeshop. He's arrested for receiving stolen property, and is released on bail. That's when I pay him a visit.

Chris Hansen: Hi, Mr. Monseur? Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. How are you? We're doing a story on an investigation being conducted by the police about receiving stolen cigarettes and I wanted to get your side of the story on it.

Norm Monseur: No comments.

Chris Hansen: When the police arrested Rodga Jones, you had cigarettes with you.

Norm Monseur: I have no comments.

Norm Monseur has pleaded not guilty.

Chris Hansen: Hey, Rodga?

Rodga Jones: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: Chris Hansen, with Dateline NBC.

We also went to see Rodga Jones, who's now behind bars.

Chris Hansen: I wanted to just see if you had anything to say about it, if you're willing to talk to us, get your side of the story?

Rodga Jones: No.

Chris Hansen: It involved cigarettes.

Rodga Jones:  I don't have nothin' to say, man.

Rodga -- who has pleaded guilty -- may not want to talk. But back at the storefront operation suspects are still filing in -- and coming up, they'll have a lot to say about how they're ripping people off.

For the last nine months, we've been watching from the back room as this storefront has been a revolving door for criminal suspects selling their loot. They think they're selling to crooks but the buyers are actually undercover detectives, and it's all been caught on tape.

Remember 29-year-old Brad Youngs--the violent six-time offender?

He sent many of his criminal friends to the fencing operation, taking a cut of each deal along the way. Brad hasn't been seen for a while. Turns out he was arrested on a different case.  But here comes his girlfriend, Alicia Napadano.

Alicia Napadano: Now I'm the one doin' all the runnin' around, tryin' to get money, f*ckin'-- it is just ridiculous.

Chris Hansen: Are you workin' right now? 

Alicia Napadano: No. I have never had a job in my life.

Chris Hansen: Shut up.

Alicia Napadano: I swear.

Chris Hansen: How old are ya?

Alicia Napadano: 21.

Chris Hansen: And you never had a job, ever?  Burger Barn, freakin' Subway, nothin'?

Alicia Napadano: I never had to.

In all, she'll make nine visits to the storefront. This time, it's a stolen BMW.

Detective: --and you said it came from a valet.

Alicia Napadano: Yeah.

She explains it was stolen from a casino.

Alicia Napadano: They leave the keys in a lot of times so the valet can drive it off into a parking spot as they walk into the casino or whatever.

Most of all, Alicia seems to be spreading the word for her boyfriend Brad while he's in jail.

Chris Hansen: What's up, man?  How you doin'?

Todd McLarey: Nice-- nice to meet you, Chris.

Chris Hansen: Who are you?

Todd McLarey: Todd.

She sends this guy. He's a friend of Brad's.

Chris Hansen: Alicia said you know him?

Todd McLarey: Yeah.

He'S Todd McLarey.  He's here with five of them a $230,000 Bentley.

Todd McLarey: I got 'em all here, dude.  Believe it or not I've asked--

Chris Hansen: All of 'em.

Todd McLarey: Got 'em f*cking here and it's been a God-damned nightmare.

Todd, a 43-year-old carpet layer, explains he's the middle man, not the thief.

Todd McLarey: I just coordinate it, man.  I just coordinate shit.

The actual thief, he says, is waiting outside--- his former cellmate.

Todd McLarey: The one dude I was in prison with.  I did a little time with him. 

His name is James Remington-- or J.R. J.R. explains that after he burglarized a house, he found he had unknowingly taken the titles to two cars...which gave him an idea.

J.R.: I left with all the stuff that I had.  And I got home, and I find the titles for these cars.  I'm like, "F*ck."  'Cause I-- I didn't go to the garage.  So I'm like, "F*ck, should I go back?"  (phone ringing) I never go back.  (laughter)

But he made an exception -- saying he went back and stole the two cars.

J.R.: Okay.  Went back.  And-- I said, "Ooh, me."  So I grabbed one of them and I had my partner come back with me and grabbed the other one.  And--

Chris Hansen: So you went back twice?

J.R.: Three times.

The undercover detectives make him an offer.

Undercover detective: I can give you $2,500 for both the rides. 

2,500 dollars for cars worth nearly 300,000. The cops tell J.R. they don't have enough money on them, and convince him to come back the next day.

Chris Hansen: Coming in.

As he warms up to the cops, he explains why he thought what he did was justified.

J.R.: Well-- it's the summer house, apparently, for these people. And they're worth, like, $10 billion. So I didn't feel bad. If it was just an average Joe workin' his *ss off, I don't do sh*t like that. I have a conscience.

In fact, he says he's the good guy. But when I got a guy has three houses and he fucking--

Chris Hansen: You're right. He-- he's not missin' it.

J.R.: He's a piece of sh*t, actually, because he cheats people like sh*t. And-- he doesn't appreciate what he's got. So I take it and give it to somebody who might.

Chris Hansen: You're like Robin Hood.

J.R.: Pretty much.

We wondered if the owner of the Bentley and the Mustang would agree, so we tracked him down.

Michael Lipscomb: He doesn't understand how-- how violated that made me feel.

His name is Michael Lipscomb. He's in the oil business and says he's a self-made man who's worked hard for every dollar he's earned.

Michael Lipscomb: My wife and I are very comfortable.  We do have two houses, but you know, when I left home I had $237.  So what I got, I got by working for it. 

We played him the tape of J.R. fencing his prized automobiles.

Chris Hansen: What do you think should happen to this fellow?

Michael Lipscomb: I hope he gets the maximum penalty for it. You can see from the video that-- he thinks he was completely in the right. 

Chris Hansen: Without this storefront investigation, do you think-- you would've gotten these cars back?

Michael Lipscomb: I don't think we would've. 

Finally--- J.R. and the rest of the gang are about to be put out of business. We'll get a chance to speak with them--

Chris Hansen: Hey Brad?

Brad Youngs: How you doin'?

And I'll reveal to them for the first time that they've been caught on hidden camera.

Chris Hansen: I'm wondering if I can show you a videotape of it--

Brad Youngs: Absolutely.

Chris Hansen: It was a sting operation.

Todd McLarey: I've never been caught in a sting operation.

Chris Hansen: Well, you're about to be.

With our all-access pass, we've been right there as the Vegas police take down criminals like pimps and car thieves. Now they're rounding up the suspects from the undercover fencing operation. In all, police recovered more than $1 million in stolen cars, arresting 38 suspects- most of them repeat offenders who are now behind bars. We went to the local jail to speak with some of them.

Chris Hansen: Hey Brad?

Brad Youngs: How you doin'?

Chris Hansen: Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC.  How are you doin'?

Brad Youngs: How are you doin'?            

We start with the ringleader-- the man police say was at the top of the criminal network. Brad Youngs. He's the guy connected to the theft of 9 cars, bragging about beating a black man after stealing his truck.

Brad Youngs: And I f*ckin' drug him right through the f*ckin' window.

Brad has no idea he was caught on hidden camera in a police sting operation, but he's about to find out.

Chris Hansen: We're doing a story on this investigation that was conducted by the Metro-- Vegas police department.

Brad Youngs: Investigation for what?

Chris Hansen: Well, for a lot of things including people who were selling stolen vehicles.  Do you know anything about this?

Brad Youngs: Absolutely not.

Chris Hansen: Not at all?  Did you sell anyone any stolen vehicles--

Brad Youngs: Absolutely not.

Chris Hansen: --over the past seven months.  No?

Brad Youngs: Uh-uh.

Chris Hansen: You're sure?

Brad Youngs: I'm positive.

Chris Hansen: 'Cause maybe this is a big mixup.

Brad Youngs: It wasn't me.

Chris Hansen: I'm wondering if I can show you a videotape of it--

Brad Youngs: Absolutely.

Watch Brad closely. As the video begins to play, his face starts to twitch.

Chris Hansen: How do you explain that?

Brad Youngs: Explain what?

Chris Hansen: Explain what was goin' on there?

Brad Youngs: I was talkin' to somebody.

Chris Hansen: You were talkin' to somebody?

Brad Youngs: Uh-huh.

Chris Hansen: Who were you talkin' to?

Brad Youngs: I don't know.  But-- I'm done talkin'.  I wanna talk to my attorney.

Brad pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 10 - 25 years in prison.

Chris Hansen: Hey Levi.  How are you?

Levy: Good.  Who are you, sir?

Chris Hansen: Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC.

Levy: Hi.

Then there's Levy Agan. He's the new dad who bragged about stealing Debbie Streeter's Kia.

Levy: Left keys by the car – f*ckin’ idiot.

Levy also doesn't know that he's been caught in a sting operation.

Chris Hansen: You actually show up in this investigation selling stolen cars.

Levy: I wasn't selling stolen cars.

Chris Hansen: You weren't selling stolen cars?

Levy: No, sir. (laughs)

Chris Hansen: You think it's funny?

Levy: I don't think it's funny at all.  Really.  I really don't think it's funny.

Chris Hansen: Because here's the thing.  During that investigation hidden cameras and microphones were runnin' the whole time.  And I have a video I'd like you to see if you'd like to look at it?

Levy: Yes, sir.

Chris Hansen: Okay.

After seeing the video- he changes his story.

Chris Hansen: Now you also talk about going in the house, getting the car keys.  And stealin' the car. 

Levy: That was just BS.

Chris Hansen: but what wasn't BS though is that you--

Levy: I have never--

Chris Hansen: --you put together seven deals to sell stolen automobiles, right?

Levy: Just like-- as long as-- with them I did.

Chris Hansen: Yeah.

Levy: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: Yeah.  Seven times.

Levy: Yeah.

Levy says he commits crimes because of drugs.

Levy: Every time I've ever been arrested or anytime I've ever been in trouble was being high.  Crystal meth or doing drugs, doing dope.

Chris Hansen: Is there anything else you want folks to know about your situation?

Levy: I guess I'm sorry to the victims that I stole the car from and took the car from.  And--

Chris Hansen: Okay. 

Levy pleaded guilty.

Next- Todd MccLarey-- the guy who calls himself the middle man...

Todd McLarey: I just coordinate, man.

Also unaware he's been caught on tape, he denies everything.

Chris Hansen:  Have you ever sold any stolen cars before?

Todd McLarey: No.

Chris Hansen: Do you know anything about stolen car rings?

Todd McLarey: No.

Chris Hansen: there's evidence that you did get involved in selling some stolen cars in an undercover sting operation.

Todd McLarey: No. I was no part of an undercover sting operation.  I don't--

Chris Hansen: I'm not saying you helped the police with the sting operation.  I'm saying you got caught in a sting operation.

Todd McLarey: I've never been caught in a sting operation.

Chris Hansen: Well, you're about to be.  Can I show you some videotape? That's you right? I mean you denied it in the beginning of our conversation until--

Todd McLarey: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: --you saw the videotape.  Did you just forget about it?

Todd McLarey: No.

Chris Hansen: You knew it.

Todd McLarey: Yeah, I knew it.

Chris Hansen: How much did you make off of all that?

Todd McLarey: Not much.

Todd McLarey: There was only a couple times I actually had my hands on the money first.  But for the most part-- wow.

As we've heard before, he says he needed the money to get high.

Todd McLarey: I did some things, you know, that I'm payin' for right now.  I-- I'm sure I deserve it.  But at the same time, you know, I need help.

Todd pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 9 1/2 to 26 years in prison.

Remember J.R., the Bentley thief?

J.R.: He doesn't appreciate what he's got. So I take it and give it to somebody who might.

He's not looking as confident in his prison blues.

Chris Hansen: How did you end up getting in this jam?

J.R.:I don't even know what jam I'm in, to be honest with you.

Chris Hansen: Well, let me ask you this, J.R.  Did you ever take some stolen cars over to a little storefront.

J.R.:No, I never did personally sell anybody any car. I was there with a friend of mine.

Chris Hansen: With a friend. Did you ever get any of the money for these cars?

J.R.: No, I didn't get any of the money, no.

Chris Hansen: Did you bring over a 2008 Bentley?

J.R.: Yes.

Chris Hansen: You did.

J.R.: Uh-huh.

Chris Hansen: And where'd that Bentley come from?

J.R.: I have no idea.

Chris Hansen: You have no idea.

J.R.: No.

Chris Hansen: You didn't steal that Bentley.

J.R.: (laughter) No, I didn't steal that Bentley.

Chris Hansen: You ever steal any cars?

J.R.: No.

Chris Hansen: You ever break into any homes?

J.R.: To steal a car?  No.

My questions about the storefront make J.R. suspicious of the guys who were working there.

J.R.: Who are they?        

Chris Hansen: It was a sting operation.

J.R.: Okay, if it was a sting operation, I'm busted-- for going there, and I'm sure they had a camera on me.

Chris Hansen: Well, in fact-- they did.  Can I show you some of the videotape?

J.R.: Uh-huh.

Chris Hansen: You're bragging--

J.R.: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: You're bragging there, J.R.

J.R.: Yeah.

Chris Hansen: About robbing a guy, and you don't feel bad about it. 

After seeing himself on tape, J.R. says he was just blowing smoke.

J.R.: This is just-- a made-up person.

Chris Hansen: So you just made it up.

J.R.: Yeah, I just made it up.

Chris Hansen: You talk about taking the Bentley.  You taking the Bentley.

J.R.: Well--  I was trying, I don't know...trying to be cool.

J.R. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.

Then, there is Alicia Napadono, the woman who brags she's never worked a day in her life.  She has pleaded guilty for the crimes related to her visits to the storefront.

Sheriff Gillespie: Our crime numbers are down.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie says his department's proactive policing is working.... And that criminals should think twice before committing a crime in Vegas.

Chris Hansen: What do you say to criminals who may see this who have their eyes on Las Vegas?

Sheriff Gillespie: Watch out.  We're in a lot of different places doing a lot of different things.  And you may think you're good at your trade, but we're that much better.  And you're going to get caught.

And we'll be watching as we continue our coverage of the Vegas cops—close-up and undercover.