VISALIA CRIME LOGS: Multi-month investigation puts brakes on auto theft ring

(Visalia Police Department)

Visalia Police Special Enforcement Unit nets several arrests following a half-year investigation into auto thefts

VISALIA – Local police put the brakes on a regional auto theft ring, following a six-month investigation.

On May 17, the Visalia PD Special Enforcement Unit, Narcotics Unit and the T.R.A.T.T. (Tulare County Regional Auto Theft Task Force) served arrest and search warrants at two locations in Visalia and one in Hanford.

This operation followed a six-month auto theft investigation by the VPD Special Enforcement Unit. Christopher Anderson, 22, Nathan Olivas, 19, and Jesse Venegas, 23, were arrested for conspiracy, operating a chop shop, auto theft and various firearms charges. This auto theft ring was responsible for the theft, sale, dismantling, and destruction of 13 high-performance vehicles valued at over $500,000.

During the search, authorities recovered a privately made AR Pistol, high-capacity magazines, a suppressor and auto theft tools.

“At the California Department of Justice, we are fighting organized crime in the field and in the courtroom,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta via announcement. “We will not tolerate theft that endangers our communities. I am thankful for strong partnerships with local law enforcement that make California a safer state. When we work together, we get results.”

The suspects were booked at the Tulare County Adult Pre-Trial Detention Facility.

May 21

The Visalia Police Department officers conducted a tobacco minor decoy operation to check if businesses in the City of Visalia sold tobacco products to minors. Under the supervision of officers, the minor decoys were told to go into stores and try to buy tobacco products. A total of six businesses were cited for selling tobacco to a minor.

The Visalia Police Department will be holding a series of tobacco decoy and compliance inspections throughout the year to ensure businesses are complying with state law. A retailer who is found guilty can be charged for a misdemeanor or subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Department of Justice.

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