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License plate scanners help nab another theft suspect

Manteca will soon have the same technology installed that has allowed Ripon Police to arrest car thieves.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Ripon Police Department arrested a suspected car thief after the stolen vehicle they were driving tripped an alert on one of the city’s license plate readers. Manteca is preparing to deploy its first license plate readers at key entry points to the city

Early Sunday morning Ripon Police officers responded to an alert that a stolen vehicle was in the vicinity of North Jack Tone and West Colony roads – the highway service corridor – and arrived to find the vehicle parked in front of a local business. Two occupants – 29-year-old Ricardo Cruz and 24-year-old Stephanie Samson, both of Stockton – were found inside of the store, and after an investigation is was determined that Cruz had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. 

Upon a search or the vehicle officers discovered an amount of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, burglary tools, and catalytic converters that they believe were stolen off of vehicles. He was also charged with a felony count of using somebody else’s identification with the intent of defrauding someone and is currently being held in the San Joaquin County Jail without bail for the previous outstanding vehicle theft warrant and the new charges. 

Both Cruz and Samson appeared in the Manteca branch of the San Joaquin Superior Court on Wednesday to answer to the charges and were both still in custody as of press time. 

Despite being a smaller community, Ripon has long been at the forefront of using technology in everyday policing practices as a way to promote community safety. 

More than a decade ago the City of Ripon utilized a number of grants to fund a citywide MESH wireless camera system designed by Motorola that allowed dispatchers to view strategic camera locations throughout town and officers to do the same from the convenience of their patrol cars. The state-of-the-art system, which uses more than 75 cameras, has assisted with both investigations and prosecutions in court, and as technology has changed the landscape of public safety, other cities have followed suit. 

The City of Lathrop just this year authorized the purchase of a number of Motorola cameras that will be equipped with the same license plate reader technology that Ripon uses to keep tabs on the city’s high-traffic intersections and alert officers about any vehicles that may have been stolen or used in any crimes. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.