A Border Patrol SUV drives at Otay Mountain on June 8, 2021 in San Diego, California.

A Border Patrol SUV drives at Otay Mountain on June 8, 2021 in San Diego, California. ( Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

(Tribune News Service) — A Border Patrol vehicle briefly went missing last month from the agency’s Imperial Beach station. Inside the vehicle was a trained Border Patrol dog, at least one agent’s uniform, three firearms and other law enforcement equipment valued at more than $105,000.

When San Diego police officers pulled over the stolen vehicle about four hours later, they found 34-year-old Shawn Errol Farrar, who is not a federal agent, behind the wheel and wearing the uniform, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Diego.

Court documents show it’s at least the fourth time within the past two years that Farrar, who briefly served in the Marine Corps about 15 years ago, has allegedly gone joyriding in a government vehicle.

Records show that on at least three occasions in 2022, Farrar allegedly stole Navy vehicles from local military bases.

The most recent alleged theft occurred on the afternoon of March 29 at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station off Boundary Road near the Tijuana River Valley. According to the criminal complaint, an agent left an unmarked vehicle idling in the secure parking lot to provide air conditioning for a dog in a kennel inside the vehicle.

At some point around 4 p.m., Farrar entered the parking lot without permission and drove off in the vehicle, according to the complaint. Around 7:30 that night, San Diego police officers spotted the vehicle in the Mission Valley area. The driver did not initially stop but eventually pulled over.

“I went there, and they gave me this car,” he allegedly told officers, according to the complaint. Then he changed his story, telling the officers that he climbed a fence to get into the station’s parking lot.

After his arrest, Farrar told police that he was a private contractor with his own investigative security firm and that he’d driven from Imperial Beach to Camp Pendleton before returning south toward Mission Valley, according to the complaint. He also allegedly told a more elaborate and fantastical tale about how he acquired the vehicle, claiming that a Border Patrol agent allowed him in the front gate of the station and pointed him to the waiting vehicle.

“Farrar also said that he was told everything he needed to complete his assignment was inside the (Border Patrol) vehicle,” a Homeland Security Investigations agent wrote in the complaint. “Farrar stated the vehicle said ‘USM’ on it, which he believed to mean ‘US Military.’ Farrar stated he used to work for the military and that’s how he got the uniform he was wearing and that’s why he needed that car.”

A Marine Corps spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Farrar enlisted in March 2008 and served until April 2010. He left the service as a private, E-1, the lowest rank in the Marine Corps.

“Farrar’s premature discharge and rank at discharge are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Due to the associated administrative processes, further details are not releasable.”

Farrar remained jailed Thursday at the George Bailey Detention Facility in Otay Mesa on a federal hold, according to Sheriff’s Department jail records. Federal court records show he faces a felony charge of theft of government property, though he has not yet been arraigned.

In July 2022, Farrar allegedly stole Navy vehicles on two separate occasions. Details about the first theft were not available. But a criminal complaint filed in Chula Vista Superior Court showed Farrar was charged with burglary, vandalism over $400, unlawfully taking and driving a Navy vehicle and concealing or withholding a stolen vehicle for incidents that occurred on July 12.

About two weeks later, Farrar allegedly stole a Ford F350 pickup from Naval Base Coronado and drove it to a different, unnamed military base in the region. According to a citation filed in federal court, a military police officer at the second base received a radio call to respond to a parking lot where a man was claiming to have human remains.

Farrar showed officers “a box of bones he claimed to have found,” according to the citation. The officers notified the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and a similar Marine Corps investigations unit, but wrote on the citation that “nothing about the bones indicated they were human.”

Then about two more weeks later, on Aug. 11, Farrar allegedly stole a Humvee from Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

Police officers spotted the stolen Humvee about 24 hours after it was first taken, and San Diego and Chula Vista officers briefly chased the vehicle along South Bay surface streets and into the Otay River valley, according to police and FOX5 San Diego. Officers arrested Farrar on suspicion of auto theft, failing to yield and on an active felony warrant.

While sitting in the backseat of a police vehicle, Farrar told OnSceneTV that he was a former Marine whose job, in part, had been to “penetrate bases for security purposes.” Footage of that arrest showed a military-style backpack adorned with a Marine Corps pin and Farrar’s last name handwritten in marker.

The records provided by the Marine Corps showed Farrar was a warehouse clerk assigned to a combat logistics regiment at Camp Pendleton.

In connection with the stolen Humvee, Farrar was again charged in Chula Vista Superior Court, on charges of grand theft of an automobile and evading an officer with reckless driving. His court-appointed attorney from the county Public Defender’s Office declined to comment Thursday. Farrar does not yet have an attorney in the federal case related to the Border Patrol vehicle.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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