LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Eleven suspects are in custody and four more were still being sought in connection with over two dozen work van thefts in the Long Beach area, authorities said Wednesday.
Detectives from the Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) conducted a nine-month joint investigation culminated in the identification of fifteen suspects committing vehicle thefts, auto burglaries, and receiving stolen property.
The organization is allegedly responsible for stealing work vans from plumbers, painters, landscapers, and construction workers, which contained thousands of dollars of tools and equipment. These suspects would eventually offload the stolen tools and equipment, sell the stolen vans, and in some cases chop up the stolen vehicles and sell them as scrap metal.
25 vehicles have been recovered in the investigation, with many of the vehicles being stolen out of the South Bay area, which include Long Beach, San Pedro, Redondo Beach, as well as Lakewood, Norwalk, Paramount and even Las Vegas, authorities said.
The suspects in custody include Thomas Hernandez, Raymond Gonzales, Katia M. Alvarado, Mariano D. Lopez, Gerald Deegan, Shane Toseland, Tiffanie Ledesma, Edward McCrimmon, Michael Sartor, Grace Barrett, and Victor M. Vergara, a majority of whom were homeless and resided in central and north Long Beach, according to investigators.
The four outstanding suspects were identified as Robert Madia, Adam Kim, Byran Godinez, and Willie Bartsman.
Anyone with information is asked to contact TRAP Detective Turpen at (626)350-4528, or CHP Investigator J. Eberhart at (323) 644-9550.