Tulare County Sheriff’s Department makes first arrest using unique SmartWater CSI program

@TheSunGazette

TULARE COUNTY – An innovative product helped blow the whistle on two train horn thieves last week. On Sept. 15, detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Agriculture Crimes Unit arrested the thieves in the first known case using SmartWater CSI products to link suspects to the crime scene in Tulare County.

Not seen by the naked eye, SmartWater CSI is a silent invisible witness that helps prevent agricultural crimes. This mineral-based liquid has a unique one in a billion code that stains those who come into contact with it.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux introduced SmartWater CSI at a press conference in January at the International Agri-Center. He encourages agricultural partners throughout Tulare County to sign up for this product to help deter thefts and solve crimes. So far, more than 300 parties have registered and applied specific SmartWater product to their properties.

None of them have suffered losses.

“Today’s arrests show that SmartWater CSI is a great tool for law enforcement and property owners in Tulare County,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.

The Ag Crimes Unit was contacted by Union Pacific Railroad officials and asked to assist following a series of six train horn thefts since February. After meeting with Railroad officials on Sept. 12, Ag crimes detective Kenny Jones applied SmartWater CSI product to the engine train horn area.

On Friday, Sept. 15, at 1:50 a.m., two suspects were observed by Railroad Officials attempting to steal a train horn from one of their parked locomotives on the 2500 block of South K Street in Tulare. Justin Lira, 20, of Tulare, was contacted by Railroad Police as he attempted to steal the train horn from a parked locomotive. His accomplice, Andrew Donaldson, 18, of Tulare, was apprehended a short distance away from the locomotive in Lira’s vehicle.

Both men were taken into custody without incident by Railroad Officials with assistance from the Tulare Police Department. Ag crimes detective John Nicholson responded to the scene to assist Railroad Officials with the investigation. Using a special UV-light specific for detecting SmartWater, Det. Nicholson observed SmartWater product on Lira and on the getaway vehicle.

Lira and Donaldson were transported to the Adult Pre-Trial Facility where they were questioned and both admitted to their involvement in the attempted theft of the train horn.

Both Lira and Donaldson are being charged with attempted grand theft and aiding and abetting to commit a felony. Bail was set at $20,000 each.

Sheriff’s Agricultural Crimes detectives continue to educate agricultural partners and related stakeholders about this crime deterrent available to them through the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Report crimes and suspicious activity to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218 or anonymously through TipNow at 559-725-4194 or [email protected].

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