In a caper that remains unexplained, 18 cars were stolen from the California State Garage near the Capitol over Memorial Day weekend.
Sacramento police have recovered 13 of the vehicles throughout the city, and sheriff’s deputies found three of the cars in south Sacramento County. In two cases, officers arrested teen drivers after pursuits and crashes.
Monica Hassan, a spokeswoman for the state Department of General Services, couldn’t say how the cars were taken from the garage.
“This is an ongoing investigation, so no details will be released at this time,” Hassan wrote in an email. “Since the incident, the Department of General Services has conducted a security assessment and review of the garage, and has made adjustments to security policies and procedures, including looking into installing an electronic entry and exit system.”
The investigation of the thefts is being handled by the California Highway Patrol because the parking garage near 10th Street and O streets is state property, said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, Sacramento Police Department spokesman.
The first car was recovered in the Southside Park neighborhood on Memorial Day, when an officer attempted a traffic stop. As the officer approached on foot, the driver sped away before crashing into a parked vehicle. The suspected car thief, a teenager, was found hiding under a porch and arrested.
Later in the evening, another stolen car was found unoccupied in Southside Park. Then, about 3:30 a.m. on May 30, an officer in the area of 44th Street and Broadway spotted a car being driven with no lights on. The officer made a U-turn and went after the car, which eventually crashed into a house.
As the officer pulled up, he saw two people run from the car. The two fleeing suspects, both 15 years old, were arrested on suspicion of auto theft.
Up to that point, the cars hadn’t been reported stolen, Heinlein said. Officers contacted the CHP and learned that the cars were taken from the garage.
“We are not investigating how they got stolen,” Heinlein said. “That is what the CHP is working on with the Department of General Services.”
Heinlein said that license plate readers and cameras at intersections alert officers of a stolen car.
“We know when they go through an intersection, then we can saturate an area,” Heinlein said. “Many of them were found unoccupied.”