Fresno, California - There are less cars being stolen in the City of Fresno compared to this time last year and investigators are identifying suspects you might not expect. This flyer put out by Fresno Police last week. It features some of the most wanted suspects for crimes related to auto theft, more than half of them are women.
Right now, five of the most prolific car thieves are in jail beds. That's helped to reduce the number of cars being stolen in Fresno, but the threat is still there and investigators say some of the most active car thieves in town are women.
On Monday Fresno police say it was a woman behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle who led police on a dangerous chase hitting a police cruiser before she was arrested. Just a week earlier, a woman was caught trying to steal a car that was left running outside a Fresno home before running away. Meanwhile, the Career Criminal Auto Theft Team put out a most wanted bulletin. More than half of the suspects are women. Undercover investigators are now seeing women play key roles in the criminal lifestyle.
"There are definitely a lot of women who are active. There's a direct tie between drugs, violent crime, auto theft. It's just the same group of people," said an undercover officer.
Fresno Police numbers show a 36.5% decrease in stolen cars. That's about 119 less cars stolen compared to this time last year.
"I think it's changing the trend a little bit. I think we are being successful on the enforcement side of it," said the undercover officer.
Over the years, nearly a thousand car thieves have been arrested thanks to anonymous tips to Valley Crime Stoppers.
"No area is safe from the auto thieves," said Valley Crime Stoppers President Dale Mendoza. "They are all the way up to the north end of town, the south end, middle areas, but clean your garage out. I know a lot of people use their garage for a storage area, but you've got to get your car in that garage."
"It only takes 30 seconds for someone to hop in your car and drive off. So we want people to be mindful of that," said the undercover officer.