Car Theft Ring Busted; Undercover Operation Nets 3

Fresno police officers are on the hunt for car thieves, in particular, in southeast Fresno.

Officers say in the past 28 days, 83 cars have been ripped off in that area alone.

So now, they are targeting that part of the city with a major operation.

With guns drawn, police dogs and a helicopter circling above, officers on Tuesday afternoon moved in on a potential chop shop.

Police say they were led to the home after they saw 35-year-old Dustin Wedel jump into a stolen black Honda.

Officers followed the car to a nearby apartment complex.

Police say also inside the stolen car were 40-year-old Michelle Ortiz and 40-year-old Desmond Rowton.

Rowton was arrested for auto theft and was released from jail last week, police said.

Sgt. Tim Tietjen said the three were a crew of car thieves working together.

"We picked the car up in southeast Fresno and the car moved over here to northwest. We know this crew is primarily working the east side of town," Tietjen said.

Officers say the biggest impact causing vehicles theft to increase, is the 82-percent release rate of auto thieves from the Fresno County jail.