A Turlock man is accused of participating in an organized retail theft crime ring that has been targeting stores in Monterey.
The Monterey Police Department identified Colton Hunter, 31, of Turlock as one of the suspects and took him into custody on April 11.
The thieves were targeting sunglass retailers and have struck at least four times, according to the police department.
The first report came in around 6:30 p.m. March 8 from a shop in the Del Monte Shopping Center. Two males entered the store and began grabbing multiple pairs of sunglasses. When an employee tried to intervene, the suspects pushed the employee away. The suspects stole approximately $13,000 worth of merchandise. The suspects fled the area and were not located.
Just before 5 p.m. March 12, Monterey police officers were dispatched to a business at Del Monte Shopping Center on Munras Avenue for a report of a burglary that had just occurred. Two male and two female suspects entered the store with bags and began filling the bags with sunglasses. The suspects stole approximately $15,000 worth of sunglasses. The suspects fled in a dark-colored sedan.
At 5:46 p.m. on April 11, officers were dispatched to a business in the 700 block of Cannery Row. Store employees reported two males wearing masks entered the business and began grabbing multiple pairs of sunglasses valued at approximately $13,000. The two suspects fled the store and drove away in a silver sedan. Responding officers located a vehicle that matched the suspect’s vehicle driving onto Highway 1 northbound from Fremont Street. The vehicle fled from officers at a high rate of speed and the subjects were not apprehended.
At 5:37 p.m. April 15, officers responded to another theft at the Del Monte Shopping Center. Store employees reported four males in masks entered the business carrying bags and began grabbing multiple pairs of sunglasses valued at approximately $80,000. The four suspects fled the store and drove away in a dark grey sedan. Responding officers located a vehicle that matched the suspect’s description driving onto Highway 1 northbound from Fremont Street. The vehicle recklessly fled from officers at a high rate of speed. The California Highway Patrol and the California University of Monterey Bay Police Department located and pursued the vehicle on Highway 1 North. The vehicle eluded police and the subjects were not apprehended.
At 12:48 p.m. April 21, officers were dispatched to a business in the 700 block of Cannery Row for a report of a burglary that had just occurred. Store employees reported a female entered the business with a trash bag and stole approximately $10,000 worth of sunglasses. The suspect fled the area in a black Mercedes.
Monterey detectives took over the investigation and were able to identify Hunter as one of the suspects from the April 11 theft. They obtained an arrest warrant for him and took him into custody on charges of commercial burglary and felony evading.
Detectives are still investigating the other thefts to determine if Hunter was involved in them and who are his accomplices.
Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to contact Monterey Police Department Investigations Sergeant Aaron Delgado at (831) 646-3814, or to remain anonymous call (831) 646-3840.