License plate thefts in Merced lead to three arrests, thousands in property recovered, police say

Local News

Photos of Stephanie Belden and Adrianna Wickard provided by the Merced County Sheriff’s office

MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Three women were arrested after thousands of dollars in property were recovered in Merced Tuesday morning, according to investigators.

Officers say just after midnight crews responded to 15th Street on reports that someone appeared to be stealing license plates from vehicles. 

Officers said they stopped Stephanie Belden, 39, who possessed a set of keys stolen during a burglary at a local car dealership that resulted in over 50 key fobs being taken and five vehicles being stolen.

Detectives said they did a probation search of Belden’s home where officers say they found property from another burglary at a local tattoo parlor and items from a Nov. 28 burglary at a bar in south Merced.

Adrianna Wickard, 20, who was at the home during the search was found to be in possession of a loaded automatic firearm, and a set of stolen key fobs.  

A teen who was also present was identified as being involved in a criminal threats case earlier in the evening.  She was arrested and turned over to her guardian, police said.

Most of the property was returned to its rightful owners. Belden and Wickard were booked into county jail.

Merced Police are asking anyone with any information regarding this crime to contact Officer Bowen at (209) 388-7710.

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