KERN RIVER VALLEY — Law enforcement claimed a major victory on Thursday, busting up a Kern River Valley auto theft ring, which landed 14 wanted fugitives behind bars.
According to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the joint forces operation targeted 33 locations in the communities of Lake Isabella, Bodfish, Weldon, Onyx, Wofford Heights and Kernville, and was in response to an increase in auto theft crimes over the past three months in those and the surrounding areas.
Authorities said there were 13 auto theft crimes during the month of August, compared to eight in July and four in June. During the operation, carried out on September 10, 35 officers visited a number of residences for the purpose of serving arrest warrants and conducting compliance checks for subjects on probation, state parole and county parole.
Those arrested are as follows:
Seth Sellers, 42, for numerous domestic violence warrants and battery on a peace officer or emergency personnel.
Matthew Stonebraker, 30, for open charges of possession of narcotics and a stolen vehicle, and four arrest warrants ranging from drugs to DUI.
Matthew Siratt, 38, for a violation of state parole.
Patricia Knott, 53, for an outstanding warrant for tampering with utilities and unauthorized use of utilities.
David Coffey, 36, for four arrest warrants ranging from drugs to petty theft.
Heather Mallory, 23, for open charges of drug possession, transportation of and sale.
Michelle Sierra, 48, for an arrest warrant charging her with burglary, petty theft and failing to appear in court.
Justin Smith, 26, for open charges of narcotics for sale and transportation.
Daniel Kirby, 26, for a warrant charging him with driving on a suspended license and failing to appear in court.
Curtis Kirby, 26, for an open charge of possession of narcotics.
James McNeil, 27, for open charges of possession and being under the influence of narcotics.
Matt Posney, 28, for an arrest warrant charging him with possession of narcotics.
Richard Potter, 51, for a violation of state parole.
Jimmy Newman, 51, for possession of narcotics paraphernalia.
All but Mallory, who is a resident of Bakersfield, reside within the communities of the Kern River Valley.