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A Sonora-area California Highway Patrol investigator submitted an arrest warrant on Friday for the man believed to be responsible for a Sonora- and Soulsbyville-area vehicle theft crime spree in late October.
The man was arrested in Turlock on Oct. 30 by Modesto CHP officers on vehicle theft, stolen property, and firearm possession charges.
The basis for connecting the Turlock thefts with the Tuolumne County suspect, said Sonora CHP Officer Jason Austin, was the recovery of a 1999 white Chevy S10, reported stolen from a South Mono Vista Road home in Soulsbyville early Oct. 26. The pickup was found abandoned along with a stolen trailer on the morning of Oct. 30 in Turlock.
In the early morning of Oct. 26, the suspect was believed to have been responsible for a spate of vehicle, vehicle trailer and forklift thefts throughout Sonora and Soulsbyville. Video surveillance footage of the suspect began a day earlier, on Oct. 25, when he was seen leaving the Aladdin Inn on Mono Way in Sonora driving a GMC Yukon that did not belong to him.
Residential surveillance footage from the next morning identified the suspect stealing a trailer and the Chevy S-10 from two neighboring houses on South Mono Vista Road in Soulsbyville.
As the day unfolded, CHP investigators and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office connected the Soulsbyville thefts with the contents of the trailer and a stolen forklift found abandoned near the Willow Springs Clubhouse.
An additional stolen forklift and two stolen trailers were located in front of a Standard Road business early Friday morning, and another stolen trailer was found in the area of South Mono Vista Road.
All of the stolen property from Tuolumne County had been subsequently located except for the Chevy S-10.
On the morning of Oct. 30, a suspect was seen stealing a U-Haul trailer from Myers Towing in Turlock, said Officer Matt Fillman of the Modest-area CHP. The suspect was followed by one of the business employees until the suspect was lost on Clausen Road, between Lander Avenue and Golf Links Road.
Fillman responded to an area on Clausen Road where the vehicle and the trailer were reportedly abandoned.
At the site, he found the stolen white Chevy S10 with Arizona plates.
While he was preparing a stolen vehicle report and recovery report, Merced-area CHP units notified him over the radio that the theft suspect had been apprehended while hiding inside a vehicle on Matheson Lane in Turlock.
Though the Matheson Lane home is in Stanislaus County, Fillman said, its close proximity to Merced County caused Merced CHP units to follow up on a tip about the driver’s whereabouts.
The man was found to have two felony warrants out of Merced County for first degree burglary and criminal conspiracy and was arrested by the Merced CHP officers at the scene.
Employees of Myers Towing were brought to the Matheson Lane residence with Modesto CHP officers, where they positively identified him as the man who took the trailer, Fillman said.
A search of the vehicle the man was hiding in yielded a loaded firearm, and additional witness statements were conducted at the scene, he said.
Enrique Javier Flores, Jr., 39, was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail by the Modesto CHP on two counts of vehicle theft and one count of possession of stolen property following his arrest at Matheson Lane.
Fillman said he would recommend additional charges of illegal possession of a loaded firearm, illegal possession of a concealed firearm, and felon in possession of a firearm charges to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
Austin said he had been notified of the vehicle’s recovery after a registration check was run by the CHP.
His warrant, he said, accounts for five counts of vehicle theft, for the Chevy S-10, the SMC Yukon, a utility trailer, a car trailer, and a horse trailer, and for possession of stolen property.
Sgt. Andrea Benson said the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office has recommended two counts of grand theft to the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office for the theft of two forklifts.
Flores since his arrest has been held on a total bail of $210,000 for all his pending charges in the Stanislaus County Jail.
Flores faces pending court dates in Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus counties. Fillman said that in some situations a suspect may be held on charges from multiple counties in a single trial, but that has not yet been established.
“He has all three counties waiting for him,” Austin said.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.