A joint task force led by the California Highway Patrol, with the assistance of local San Diego law enforcement, has successfully dismantled an auto theft ring involving over 172 stolen vehicles and 30 individuals. The yearlong sting operation, named Operation Sunrise, resulted in multiple arrests and the recovery of all 172 stolen vehicles, worth a total of $3.3 million.
The operation, which took place from September 2022 to July 2023, targeted various criminal activities associated with the auto theft ring, including identity theft, insurance fraud, gun and narcotic sales, and possession. Undercover work and false business transactions led authorities to uncover the suspects and their alleged involvement in the auto theft ring.
So far, 31 suspects have been arrested, with ages ranging from their early 20s to their 50s. The suspects come from different backgrounds, including documented gang members, individuals with felony narcotics trafficking records, and even a suspect with an attempted murder conviction.
According to CHP Capt. Charles Leonard, the suspects took advantage of any opportunity to steal a car, regardless of its make, model, year, or color. The stolen vehicles were eventually discovered and returned to their rightful owners.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has secured 50 grand jury indictments related to the case. If convicted, the suspects could face over 15 years in prison.