Taft Police had to cope with an outbreak of automobile thefts involving vehicle coming and going from all directions in a 24-hour period last week.
It ended up with four people – the youngest a 13-year-old San Luis Obispo County boy – in custody.
It all started about 10:20 a.m. Friday morning when Taft Police officer Moises Martinez spotted a couple of teenagers in a car that he thought looked suspicious.
He was right.
Martinez made a traffic stop on the vehicle in the parking lot in front of Albertsons.
The car turned out to be stolen, and the two teens, identified as Shawn Dakota Smith and Eugene Lobera, both 18, were charged with possession of known stolen property, Chief of Police Ed Whiting said.
Two hours later, about 12:30 p.m., Kern County Sheriff's deputies received a report of a stolen car.
About the time the information went out over the radio, Taft Police Lt. Pete Aranda found himself right behind the suspect vehicle in the 600 block of Rose Avenue.
Aranda got behind the suspect vehicle, a maroon minivan, and activated his lights and sirens.
The suspect drove north on Rose from South Street to Buena Vista, then turned on Buena Vista at a “slow, deliberate” rate of speed, Whiting said, then went north on Naylor and accelerated to 40 to 40 miles per hour despite what Whiting described as “heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic.”
The suspect proceeded northbound on Naylor past Wood, Crystal and Pico.
The suspect lost control where Naylor makes a sharp right turn where it ends into Oak Street and the vehicle slide into the dirt and struck a wooden post before coming to rest.
Page 2 of 2 - The suspect exited the vehicle and fled into the rear yard of a home on the 100 block of Pico.
By then, more Taft Police and Kern County Sheriff's deputies were on scene.
They surrounded the yard and arrested the suspect without any further incident.
A Taft Police car sustained minor damage as a result of the chase.
He was identified as Jeshua Russo, 33, of Bakersfield.
He was charged with grand theft auto, felony evading police in a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.
Officers got their youngest suspect on Saturday.
About 10 a.m. police received a report of a white Ford F-150 being driven recklessly northbound on Highway 33 from Maricopa.
Whiting said the officers waited at Wood Street and Highway 33 and made a traffic stop when the vehicle came by.
They were in for a bit of a surprise.
When they asked the driver for his driver's license and proof of insurance, he told the officers he didn't have any.
The boy confesses that he was just 13.
They took the boy into custody contacted his mother by telephone, and she was just then reporting the truck stolen – to a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputy in Arroyo Grande.
The boy was taken to juvenile hall and later released to his mother, Whiting said.