Fresno Police crack major auto theft ring by buying stolen cars
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The tools of the cart theft trade include altered ignition keys, and even computer chipped keys. A bunch of those were found in the backpack of a man arrested by Fresno Police on Wednesday afternoon, as he appeared to be casing a neighborhood, looking to steal cars.
"His name is Robert Wallert," said Detective Tietjen. "He is one of our most prolific, we call him one of our ten per centers."
Police Detective Timoth Tietjen heads the department's Career Criminal Auto Theft Team. Wallert is called a "Ten Percenter" because police believe he's personally responsible for 10% of the cars stolen in the city. Combined with the rest of his suspected crew they're believed linked to 150 car thefts a month in the city. Police cracked the ring by posing as buyers and getting the thieves to sell them cars.
"We bought four cars off of them and they could sell us up to ten a week if they wanted." Tietjen said.
In an Action News investigation last week, police demonstrated just how easy and fast it is to steal a car by using altered keys. Less than a minute to get in and drive off.
Tietjen tells us you might be surprised to learn just how little money it takes to buy a stolen car. "Lets say you have a Honda Accord, a very nice 2003 Honda Accord that you've paid a lot of money for and they'll bring it and sell that car for a hundred and fifty dollars."
Wallert was taken into custody. Two others police say are involved were arrested earlier in the week. They are identified as Jonathen Noisey and Tino Tufono. Police are still looking for Dominque Bustamante. Police say all are members of the Bulldog gang.
"Our goal is to put some substantial charges on these individuals that are going to hold them. That's going to keep them in jail longer that's our goal and it's our hope the jail will hold them." Tietjen said.
Along with the altered keys police found a stolen prescription drug pad among Wallert's belongings.
In addition to selling police stolen cars, the suspects are accused of selling police two stolen firearms. As for the cars, Hondas, Chevy's and Saturns remain the most popular and easiest cars to steal. Thieves have even figured out how to get computer chipped keys for newer cars. Police believe in some cases they pay off employees in car dealerships to make them.
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