Two alleged thieves were busted in a multi-agency investigation using SmartWater technologies in Tulare County, CA.
The investigation started when a Tulare-area business owner called deputies after a string of thefts at a metal shop.
Tulare County District Attorney’s investigators decided to use bait equipment on the property and, with some help from detectives with the Sheriff’s Ag Crimes Investigations Unit, the items were marked with SmartWater and fitted with GPS tracking devices.
Once sprayed on equipment, the SmartWater liquid is invisible, odorless, stays on a thief for weeks/months without them noticing and is picked up using an ultra-violet light. The solution is unique to the property owner, deputies said.
Soon after, deputies were called, after yet another burglary had taken place, and upon arrival at the scene, they were able to ascertain that entry had been gained by peeling back a metal shutter, allowing the thieves to make off with a thermal dynamic plasma cutter and a Honda generator – a loss to the sum of approx. $3,300.
Using surveillance footage and the GPS trackers, law enforcement were able to track the suspects and a team of Sheriff’s deputies, detectives, DA investigators and officers with Tulare Police Department soon spotted the suspect’s vehicle.
After a short chase through town, the vehicle stopped.
Andrew Sanchez, 29, jumped out of the vehicle and ran. He was brought down by deputies a short distance from the vehicle. Jennifer Hooper, 32, was the driver of the vehicle and was also arrested, deputies said.
Both were booked into Tulare County Pretrial Facility on burglary-related charges. Bail for Hooper and Sanchez was set at $60,000.
As detectives and investigators continued their investigation, they tracked down the stolen plasma cutter and generator – the former being marked with Smartwater.
The plasma cutter was seized as evidence and will be handed over to the Smartwater lab for testing, deputies have said.