Fresno police arrested four men Thursday in Modesto in connection with the burglary last month of a Fresno gun shop in which 50 handguns and rifles were stolen.
But only one rifle and two handguns were found in SWAT raids of four homes in Modesto, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
The rifle was found in an attic. Meanwhile, a man and a woman who are engaged or married are still at large and wanted for burglary.
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Ankle monitor data from a suspect on probation helped solve the case, Dyer said.
About 11 p.m. Oct. 20, six people arrived in two vehicles and broke into PRK Firearms, 1401 N. Clovis Ave. in east-central Fresno. The burglar alarm went off but the burglars were gone within six or seven minutes.
They got away with 25 rifles, mostly semi-automatic versions of assault rifles, and 25 handguns, and must have cased the business in advance, Dyer said. After the burglary, police initially reported that 23 rifles and 24 handguns were stolen.
The security door lock had been cut open using bolt cutters, and the doors to the business were pried open using crowbars, he said. Police found the tools in the raid, Dyer said. Also confiscated was $3,800 cash, all $100 bills, possibly from selling the guns, Dyer said.
The investigation was hampered because video cameras at the store were not working at the time of the burglary, he said. Police used video from a neighboring business, but a tip a week later from Modesto police moved the investigation to Stanislaus County, he said.
Arrested were Johnny Sanchez, 21, Nathan Creel, 21, James Britt, 23, and Luis Galvan, 40. Wanted are Dolores Garza, 52. and David Avina, 51. All are from Stanislaus County.
Sanchez was on probation for burglary and wearing a GPS ankle monitor, so probation officers in Stanislaus County tracked the monitor data to figure out where he’d been, he said.
“We were able to determine that Johnny Sanchez had in fact been at PRK Firearms at the time of the burglary,” Dyer said.
Sanchez also visited an Arco station the same day in Turlock, so police got video surveillance tape from the station. “The video allowed our detectives to be able to identify other suspects that were in the vehicle,” Dyer said.
The investigation culminated in a 6 a.m. SWAT raid involving Fresno and Clovis police, ATF and law enforcement in Stanislaus County, who served four search warrants at homes in west Modesto.