Two suspects were arrested for vehicle theft and possession of stolen property on Friday, Dec. 27, near the Yosemite Lakes Park Club House in Yosemite Springs Parkway in Coarsegold.
According to the Madera County Sheriff's Office Matthew Patrick Gibson, a self-admitted "Fresneck" gang member from Fresno and Kayla Danielle Hillhouse, of Fresno, were arrested after officers ran a vehicle check on a pickup that came back stolen.
Inside the truck deputies found tools commonly used to commit burglaries as well as mail that appeared to have been recently stolen.
The truck, which was reported stolen on Dec. 25, was registered to a Coarsegold resident and may have been used in connection with a rash of burglaries in the surrounding area.
The pair was booked into Madera County Department of Corrections and both suspects posted bail set at $25,000 each. Both suspects face charges of vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. Hillhouse also faces an additional charge of possession of narcotics.
Hillhouse was previously arrested in January of 2013 for suspicion of receiving stolen property, identity theft, possession of a forged driver's license and commercial burglary.
According to the Hanford Sentinel, Hillhouse was found in possession of a pair of keys and a small bundle of receipts in her pockets.
The keys belonged to a U-Haul pickup truck parked in the lot, which had been reported stolen out of Fresno. The receipts came from local stores like Denny's, Starbucks and the 12th Avenue Chevron Station and added up to about $450.
The newspaper reported Officer Chris Barker said Hillhouse forged a set of fake identification cards to go with the stolen credit cards, making the whole operation look legitimate.
In a possibly unrelated event a couple, who chose to remain anonymous, said their house was burglarized on Dec. 20, while they were away, however they were able to catch a glimpse of the subjects on their home surveillance cameras which spotted the suspects and the car used in the crime. The couple claims they reported to crime to police and gave a description of the subjects to the sheriffs office in hopes of catching the culprits.
"We were watching a camera that was on scene set up to watch birds in the surrounding areas. While my husband was watching he noticed a car in the driveway and noticed a subject getting out," said the woman. "In the beginning we were watching it like a TV show...we were not thinking anything of it until we saw the car and women coming to the door."
The Coarsegold couple claims the two people arrested on Dec. 27, matched the description of the suspects seen burglarizing their house. The couple says that police possibly used their report and identification to apprehend the subjects and hopes they are indeed the ones responsible.
In another incident, around the same dates, a local Mountain Area family was given a scare after a burglar, in a similar situation, attempted to break into their home while their daughter was watching the house. Erin Lehr, of Coarsegold said a subject attempted to break into their home and said although nothing was stolen from the house, the situation leaves her feeling unsafe and scared to leave anyone home alone.
"You feel unsafe, invaded, I guess you can even say paranoid now. You question whether or not your home is safe for you to leave.....the dogs bark, and you jump," Lehr said.
Luckily according to Lehr's daughter the intruders were scared off by the Sherwood's three dogs. a German Shepard, Lab-mix and Husky.
People in the Mountain Area are advised to keep their house locked and to notify neighbors when they are leaving town so someone can keep an eye on their home. Other options include having a surveillance cameras, like the ones used to identify the suspects in the Coarsegold burglaries, and always keep things stored in a locked area. With tough economic times and the introduction of technology, thieves are becoming more and more adapt and its important that people do what they can to protect their assets.
Citizens and asked to call the Madera County Sheriff's Office to report any unusual or suspicious activities.