Fresno police connect vintage car thefts to guns and gangs

FRESNO, Calif.

Last month police recovered a restored and customized 1952 Chevy from a chop shop in the Sunnyside area.

Further investigation at the scene recovered vehicle identification tags taken from other vintage cars. Fresno Police Sgt. Tim Tietjen says older cars are easier to steal, modify, and re-sell.

Tietjen explained, "If you have the ability to chop a vehicle, switch the vin out and present this to somebody else, you can make a hundred grand."

The move to vintage cars surprised police, along with the increasing discovery of heavy duty assault weapons discovered at this chop shop and others run by gangs.

Tietjen said, "It shows the nexus between bulldog gang members and assault weapons we recovered numerous assault weapons at the house, 2,000 rounds of ammunition. It goes to show this is a business for then."

Along with drug dealing and identity theft. But the positive news that came from the department's monthly crime view meeting is that by specifically targeting gangs, Police Chief Jerry Dyer says the city's crime rate across all categories continues to drop.

Chief Jerry Dyer added, "Violent crime is down 10 percent, property crime is down 12 percent this year that's on top of the three consecutive years of violent crime decreases that we've seen."

But while the numbers are down, Tietjen says those involved appear to be armed and more dangerous.

Tietjen explained, "80 percent of the individuals we arrested for car theft or for chop shops or other car related thefts were violent gang members with violent histories."

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