Growing link between auto theft and drive-bys in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Investigators are noticing a dangerous trend between these shootings and auto thefts. Sunday night's drive-by shooting in East Central Fresno left a family fearing for their lives. A gunman riddled their home with bullets from a high-powered handgun.

"My grandma is here. She's 75. She does dialysis three times a week. My daughter's here. She's four," said one of the residents who did not want to reveal his name for fear of retaliation.

One of the home's residents said he is a former gang member, and said he does not know why his home was targeted.

One of the members of the household was sleeping on this couch at the time of the shooting. One of the bullets came crashing in through this window and landed inches above his head.

Fresno Sgt. Timothy Tietjen is with the auto theft task force and says this drive-by shooting is part of a troubling trend. On Monday police caught two validated gang members as they stripped the stolen car used Sunday night.

"We've discovered there's a direct nexus between drugs, gangs, gang violence and auto theft. They use auto theft and stolen car as a vehicle to commit these violent crimes," said Teitjen.

Last year Fresno Police arrested 224 people for auto theft. This year the number is already higher with 270 arrests.

Tietjen said many of these criminals are tied to chop shops. Last year the auto theft unit closed down 30 shops. So far this year 35 have been busted.

Tietjen: "We're meeting with the district attorney and instead of just arresting them for auto theft we're meeting with them and targeting them for gang enhancements. We're going after them as an entire gang."

Tietjen said bullets found inside the suspect's car Monday night matched the ones used in the drive by. Family members said until the shootings stop, they will not feel safe in their own home.

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