Police: Tracking system led to auto theft arrests

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comNovember 27, 2012 

Three people were arrested in Atwater on Tuesday after being found with a stolen vehicle taken from a Turlock resident's driveway, according to Atwater Lt. Sam Joseph.

The vehicle was parked at an am-pm minimarket at Bell Drive and Applegate Road about 4 a.m. Tuesday when officers made the arrest.

Joseph said the stolen vehicle had LoJack installed — a vehicle recovery system that alerted Atwater police of the possible stolen car Tuesday morning.

Officer Fred Robinson followed the system's signals, which led him to the gas station, where he tracked down the grey Chevrolet pickup; its license plates had been removed.

The driver, 41-year-old Paul Foster, started to walk away quickly from officers as they approached the pickup, but was detained by police, Joseph said.

After running the pickup's vehicle identification number, officers determined it had been stolen from Turlock. Foster was arrested without incident.

Rebecca Reagan, 41, and Helen Ybarra, 27, were inside the convenience store and were arrested in connection with the theft when they emerged, said Joseph.

During their arrest, Joseph said, all three suspects provided officers with false statements and denied stealing the truck.

The owner of the vehicle said he captured images of three people on a video surveillance camera as they took the truck from the home's driveway, Joseph said.

Joseph credited the officers' quick response to the signals for the arrests.

Foster, Reagan and Ybarra were booked at the Merced County Jail on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, buying or receiving stolen property and theft of a vehicle.

Ybarra also was booked on charges of possessing drug paraphernalia after officers say they located a drug pipe.

Reagan and Ybarra made bail and were released just before 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Foster is being held at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $55,200 bail.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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