FRESNO – The Fresno Police Department’s auto theft team has been busy over the last few days helping clear Fresno’s streets from car thieves.
Officers have been focusing their efforts on car thieves because of a spike in stolen cars in the last two weeks. A special police task force, the Career Criminal Auto Theft Team, has found and arrested 17 thieves so far this week. On Wednesday alone, eight suspects were taken into custody, authorities said.
Police said the auto theft ring is made up of violent Bulldog gang members who sell the cars to chop shops or potentially use them for drive-by shootings.
One of the suspects arrested on Wednesday was 21-year-old Rueben Molano, who allegedly stole a 1995 Acura sometime after midnight. Police spotted him in the stolen car and followed him into an alley. Once in the alley, Molano put his car in reverse and rammed into the patrol car. Molano tried to flee the scene, but officers caught him and at least one other suspect who with him. The officer in the patrol vehicle was not injured.
Another one of the thieves arrested on Wednesday was 24-year-old Gustavo Sanchez, who police say is the ring leader of the auto theft gang. Police called him a “high-risk parolee.”
“He’s on GPS monitoring. He cut his monitor off and we’ve been trying to catch him now for the past three days,” said Tim Tietjen with the police department.
Of the 20 cars that have been stolen in the past few days, so far seven have been recovered and returned to their owners, authorities said.
CBS47; 17 Suspects Arrested in CCATT Operation