Fresno's auto-theft rate this year is down 37% compared to last year when the city was deemed the nation's auto-theft capital.
At this time last year, nearly three times as many cars were being stolen per day as this year. As of Thursday, there were 511 fewer vehicle thefts than last year, the Fresno Police Department reports.
The aggressive tactics of the Career Criminal Auto Theft Team, which has focused on auto thieves, also has pushed chop shops to move outside city limits, said Sgt. Tim Tietjen.
Even so, Fresno police continue to investigate chop shops and make arrests, he said.
On Thursday, police announced the arrest of a man identified as the No. 2 auto thief from the department's Top 5 list.
Victor Portillo, 27, of Fresno was arrested on a felony auto-theft warrant and on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. Police say he has been arrested seven times so far this year.
The No. 1 auto thief, Michael Kent, 28, is suspected of stealing three vehicles and committing five burglaries on March 6, Tietjen said.
"They are burglars and identity thieves," he said. "It's all about them getting money."
The No. 3 auto-theft suspect is Jeremiah Gutierrez, 26, and No. 4 is 33-year-old Francisco Delarosa. Both have active warrants for auto-theft related crimes and are wanted by law enforcement.
Ralph Jasso, 36, the No. 5 suspect, has several criminal cases pending. Police continue to monitor his activity as cases against him progress through the legal system.
Last week, the former No. 1 auto-theft suspect, Gabriel Osorio, 21, was sentenced to four years in state prison.
Police are asking residents to call the Fresno Police Department's Communication Center at (559) 621-7000 if they see one of the Top 5 suspects involved in suspicious activity. An anonymous tip can be left by calling Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP or the Career Criminal Apprehension Team tip line at (559) 621-CCAT (2228).
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