Sheriff’s department arrest ends rash of ag thefts

Two month investigation nabs thief who stole over $150,000 in ag equipment in Tulare, Kings and Kern counties including five tractors, six trailers

TULARE COUNTY – The World Ag Expo may be virtual this year, but one man was still trying to get his hands on thousands of dollars in farm equipment for a steal.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office announced last Friday, Jan. 15 that over the last few months, farms, ranches and businesses in several area counties have been the target of property thefts. Everything from tractors, trailers and cars to lawnmowers and other property have been taken from a number of local farms.

After a two-month investigation, and with help from the Kings County Sheriff’s Office ag crimes unit and the Tulare Regional Auto Theft Taskforce, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office ag detectives tracked down and arrested 39-year-old Luciano Navarro of Corcoran this week for a number of charges, including grand theft of ag equipment, burglary and auto theft. At the time of his arrest, he was driving a stolen vehicle. Navarro was tied to the crimes not only by his confession, but also by physical evidence found at the scene.

During the course of this investigation, detectives discovered Navarro was responsible for committing more than 30 thefts spanning Tulare, Kings and Kern Counties. They were able to recover five tractors, six trailers, two stolen vehicles and a John Deere riding lawnmower, with a combined total value of more than $150,000. Navarro was booked into the Kings County Jail, where he is being held on $275,000 bail and awaiting transfer to Tulare County for prosecution.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux wants to remind local ag partners and business owners that there are important safety measures you can be taking right now to keep your property safe. If you are able to do so, utilizing GPS equipment, as well as OANs (owner applied numbers) is always incredibly helpful when it comes to preventing thefts. Security cameras are also a great way to monitor your property, and the value of having serial numbers available for deputies and investigators when needed cannot be stressed enough. SmartWater also remains an incredibly useful tool in tracking down stolen equipment and property. If you’re interested in learning more about it, don’t hesitate to contact the Sheriff’s department ag unit.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to contact Detective Bryan De Haan, Detective Pete Verhoeven or Sergeant Bryan Clower with the TCSO Ag Unit at 559-802-9567 or 24 hours 559-733-6218, 800-808-0488, Tip Now Line: 559-725-4194, or by e-mail [email protected].

Sheriff’s Log

Thursday, Jan. 14

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office homicide unit arrested 34-year-old Ismael Hernandez Gutierrez and 37-year-old Maria Sepulveda for the murder of Miguel Rosales of Tulare. Rosales was found stabbed to death on Jan. 9 in the 19000 Block of Road 96 in Tulare. Homicide Detectives found surveillance video leading to the identity of three people responsible for the murder. Hernandez and Sepulveda were taken into custody during a search warrant. Homicide detectives are now asking for the public’s help to find a third suspect, 36-year-old Rene Gomez of Tulare. Gomez is believed to be in the Tulare area. Anyone with information on his whereabouts or information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218. Or they can remain anonymous by calling or texting 559-725-4194 or through email at [email protected].

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