Suspects believed to be responsible for tagging in Taft area. Not all the cases are related


Taft Police and Kern County Sheriff’s have identified four teenage suspects in outbreak of graffiti vandalism in the Taft area over the past several weeks.

They are preparing to seek vandalism charges through the Kern County District Attorney, Taft Police Lt. Ed Whiting said.

The case was made after a lengthy investigation by the two law enforcement agencies that involved the searches of two homes and a short pursuit.

“This is a real good case of cooperation between the Kern County Sheriff’s office and Taft Police Department,” Whiting said Wednesday

Only one of the suspects was arrested and he was charged with a vandalism warrant out of Delano, Whiting said.

However, officers are confident they have solved a series of vandalisms that hit homes and businesses both in Taft and unincorporated areas.

Not all of the crimes the suspects are accused of committing are related, Whiting said.

“All four of the suspects did not act in unison,” Whiting said. “Some of the suspects did some of the vandalism, and some did some other vandalism

The tagging was first noticed in South Taft three weeks ago, but was also reported in Ford City and inside the city, Whiting said.

A welcome to Taft sign and old Berry Petroleum warehouse on Kerto Road that is a state historical landmark were among the targets.

The big break came when officers were able to view a videotape of vandalism at the Fastrip convenience store at Tenth and Kern Streets.
Still shots taken from the video led to the identification of three of the suspects.

Officers went to one house in South Taft a week ago and conducted a search.

They found evidence at that scene linking one of the suspects to the crimes.

During that search, one of the other suspects drove by the house, Whiting said.

Officers drove after him and caught him after a short foot chase.

He is identified as Vladimir Martinez, 19, of Taft.
He was arrested on a $7,500 warrant out of Delano for vandalism, Whiting said, as well as a count of resisiting arrest

Another search on Garfield Avenue led to more evidence linking Martinez and another suspect to the some of the vandalism, Whiting said – including graffiti.

“We found some of the same characters and symbols at the residence on Garfield

The other three suspects, all either 18 or 19 years old, have not been arrested yet.

Whiting said the case is being submitted to the District Attorney for charges.