Fresno police enlist social media followers as auto theft detectives

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Fresno police are hoping knowledge is power as they try to stop a troubling crime trend. (KFSN)

Fresno police are hoping knowledge is power as they try to stop a troubling crime trend.

After the best year in decades, stolen cars are on the rise again in Fresno, so police are enlisting us all as citizen detectives. Armed with nothing more than the devices most of us carry around, they think we can slow down car thieves.

The destiny for a lot of stolen cars is to be found up on bricks or jacks, stripped down to not much more than a frame, and left for scrap. That's what a 24-year-old victim pictured when he noticed his car had disappeared a couple weeks ago. He usually keeps it parked inside a gate, but not that night. "And it was the first time I left it outside, so I wasn't expecting anything to happen," he said.

The 24-year-old Fresno City College student doesn't want to be identified by name, but he says his heart dropped. Getting himself and his kids to school was about to be a big challenge.

The detectives who stepped into help had a challenge of their own. Twenty-one cars were reported stolen that same week in northeast Fresno alone. But they're trying a new approach to tackle the problem. "Our goal here is to lower crime, and specifically auto theft, by putting out as much information to the public as we can," said detective Sammy Ashworth. "We're using social media to do that."

Ashworth posted a map to Facebook showing where thieves are stealing cars, along with a list of what they're taking. He's found 11 of the vehicles already and arrested these two men -- Michael Delsid and David Medina -- on auto theft charges. He posted their mug shots too, in case they get out. "We want people to look at these photographs, the information that we're sharing and recognize these suspects," Ashworth said.

Our victim was one of the lucky ones. A friend found his Honda at a Walmart where employees said it had been parked for five days. The stereo and speakers are gone, but the car is still in working condition. "It was a relief," the victim said. "I was relieved because it wasn't on bricks."

That Honda is something of a boomerang too. The victim told Action News it's been stolen three times in three years, but every time it comes back to him, and every time he has to replace the stereo.

You can pick up an anti-theft device for a $15 donation to the Fresno Police Neighborhood Watch Association by calling Ruben Barrios at 621-6225.
Related Topics:
newsfresno police departmentfresnofacebooksocial mediaauto theftFresno
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