Atwater police use GPS device to find car, arrest Winton pair

Atwater police said a GPS tracker on a stolen car led to a trove of other stolen property last week, resulting in two arrests.

Winton residents Emmanuel Reyna, 28, and Michelle Sparks, 24, were booked at the county jail in connection with stolen vehicles and items including fire department and school equipment, Atwater police said in a statement Monday.

Officers responded Friday morning to a stolen vehicle report in the 3400 block of Harbor Way. The victim’s mother told police her daughter’s 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier had been stolen during the night. The girl’s parents had installed a GPS tracker on the vehicle.

Investigators tracked the vehicle to a home on Santa Fe Drive in Winton and found it parked in front of a recreational vehicle. Officers said they saw a broken-down Chevrolet Corsica parked next to the stolen vehicle.

“The plates from the Corsica were on the stolen Cavalier and someone had attempted to glue the Corsica emblem on the rear of the Cavalier,” Lt. Samuel Joseph said in the statement.

Police found Reyna and Sparks inside the motor home. Each was wanted on prior arrest warrants related to vehicle theft, police said.

While searching the home, officers found items believed to have been stolen, including a key to the Cavalier, volleyball gear and high school textbooks.

“Sparks was found to be wearing the victim’s $150 Ugg boots,” Joseph said.

Inside the Cavalier, police said they found three car stereos, a Merced County Fire Department turnout bag full of gear, several purses and bags, and medical and banking cards. Some of the the bank cards were reported stolen Nov. 3 and a purse and wallet were found that had been reported stolen during a vehicle burglary Wednesday, police said.

Authorities said several other recovered items had recently been reported stolen to the Merced Police Department, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and the Turlock Police Department.

“Most of these items were inventoried, photographed and returned to their owners,” Joseph said. “The three car stereos remain a mystery.”

Police also seized two suspected methamphetamine pipes and suspected burglary tools including a set of batting gloves, a metal pry bar, a window punch, and a lanyard with a ceramic spark plug piece that could have been used to break windows.

“All items of property that we were unable to locate owners for were logged into evidence,” Joseph said.

Both suspects remained in custody Monday. Reyna’s bail was set at $313,000 and Sparks’ at $113,000, according to booking records.