TRUMBULL — A Trumbull man is facing charges for his involvement in an apparent multi-state vehicle theft ring.

According to police, a New Jersey police officer called May 8 about a car that had been stolen from a local dealership. The vehicle had a GPS tracker that had “pinged” in Trumbull.

Trumbull police went to a home where they found a gray 2020 Jeep Wrangler that appeared to have an altered vehicle identification number. The resident, Esteffany Ferreira, 39, initially said the Jeep had been dropped off by a friend. He later said he had purchased the Jeep at a Waterbury shopping center from two unknown men for $18,000 cash, police said. The vehicle has a retail price of more than $43,000.

By using the Jeep’s GPS tracker, officers were able to trace the vehicle’s movements, from New Jersey to Waterbury to Trumbull. Surveillance of the properties where the Wrangler had been parked in Waterbury later showed another Jeep, a 2019 Grand Cherokee valued at nearly $55,000, with a Texas license plate.

Waterbury police pulled over the Grand Cherokee and the driver, Michael Cruz, 35, of Waterbury, allegedly told officers that the vehicle belonged to a friend and that he was driving it to get some repair work done. The officer noted that vehicle also appeared to have an altered VIN and that it had been reported stolen from a Branford dealership in October 2019.

Police got warrants for both men’s arrest. Ferreira turned himself in to Trumbull police July 21. On the same day, Waterbury police took Cruz into custody at his home.

Cruz was charged with first-degree larceny. Bond was $50,000 for a court date of July 29. Ferreira was charged with first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny and interfering with police for initially giving a false statement. His bond was $50,000 for a court date of July 28.