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Law enforcement nab auto theft suspects
joseph conley
Joseph Conley

A combined effort between the Turlock Police Department, the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force and other area law enforcement has resulted in the capture of three suspected auto thieves and the return of two stolen vehicles.

The first effort was on Tuesday and resulted in the arrest of Kayla Stewart, 21, of Keyes and Sammy Flores, 32, of Ceres.

Agents with StanCATT were in the area of 7th and Pecos streets in Modesto when they spotted a 2004 Lexus IS3 being driven by a woman. The agents trailed the car for some time, but the woman behind the wheel was driving so erratically, they lost sight of it.

StanCATT was able to obtain the license plate and conducted a records check which revealed the vehicle to have been reported stolen to the California Highway Patrol’s Modesto office.

A short time later StanCATT agents located the vehicle again in the same area, though this time it was being driven by a man.

The agents followed the vehicle as it entered Highway 99 and traveled into Turlock. The vehicle entered a residential neighborhood, where it stopped in front of a house and the passenger — a woman, later identified as Stewart — got out of the vehicle and took a large Amazon package off the front porch. She then got back into the stolen vehicle and the pair drove off, unaware of the StanCATT agents following behind them.

StanCATT contacted the Turlock Police Department and requested they make an enforcement stop on the Lexus. They were able to make the stop and took Stewart and Flores into custody without incident.

The stolen package was returned to the resident and the stolen Lexus was returned to the owner. A stolen gun also was recovered in the vehicle, according to the Turlock Police Department.

Stewart and Flores were both booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on charges vehicle theft and warrants.

The next arrest happened Friday and resulted in Joseph Conley being taken into custody on suspicion of auto theft.

The incident began with the Turlock Police Department taking a report of a stolen 2007 Ford Ranger, which was sent out to other area law enforcement agencies.

Approximately 15 minutes after the reported theft, the Stanislaus Sheriff's Office Agriculture Crimes unit and StanCATT located the vehicle near Crows Landing and Keyes roads in Ceres.

The driver of the Ford, later identified as Conley, saw that he was being followed and tried to evade arrest by driving the Ford up onto a canal bank.

Conley drove the Ford back onto a surface street and refused to stop for the sheriff’s deputies. He sped away at a high rate of speed, driving into an orchard, where he struck a tree, causing the Ford to come to an abrupt stop.

Conley tried to flee on foot, but was apprehended in the orchard.

In addition to the auto theft charge, Conley had a warrant issued by the Modesto Police Department for auto theft and was out on bail for vehicle theft cases from the Ceres and Modesto police departments.