The Los Angeles County Sheriffs have announced the arrest of eleven people, and the identification of four more, in connection with the theft of at least 25 working vehicles.
A multi-agency task force known as TRAP, for Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention, consists of L.A. Sheriff’s Deputies, California Highway Patrol officers, Long Beach and Los Angeles Police. The TRAP group has been around since 1993 under the direction of the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, with the LA County Sheriff as the regional coordinator. Their goal to reduce auto theft is accomplished through deterrence, investigation, and ultimately strong prosecution. On June 13th, after a nine month investigation, the force conducted an arrest operation throughout the city of Long Beach.
The investigation delved into a criminal operation that focused on stealing the working vans of plumbers, painters, landscapers, and construction contractors. The suspects would empty the vans of their tools and equipment, which they would sell or fence to a buyer below the true market value. The vans were then either sold or dismantled to sell as scrap. The targeted vehicles were stolen mostly from the South Bay area of Long Beach, San Pedro, and Redondo Beach, along with inland areas of Lakewood, Norwalk, Paramount, and on what must have been a special trip, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The CHP officers in the task force brought in the 11 individuals arrested, who are identified as Thomas Hernandez, Raymond Gonzalez, Katia M. Alvarado, Mariano D. Lopez, Gerald Deegan, Shane Toseland, Tiffanie Ledesma, Edward McCimmon, Michael Sartor, Grace Barrett, and Victor M. Vergara. Most were identified as being homeless and residing in central and north Long Beach.
Still wanted, but identified by the TRAP taskforce are Robert Madia, Adam Kim, Bryan Godinez, and Willie Bartsman.
Anyone with any information about the operation, or the four wanted individuals, should contact their local law enforcement, or submit an anonymous tip to LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA and the info to CRIMES (274637) or at crimestoppers.org.
Belmont Shore-Naples Patch: 11 Suspects Arrested in Long Beach for Stealing 25 Home Repair Vans