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Detectives arrest 4 suspects observed breaking into ‘bait car’ at trailhead



Washoe County Sheriff’s Office detectives and K9 teams assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit arrested four suspects Thursday after witnessing them burglarize a bait vehicle.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office maintains several “bait vehicles” in a partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau designed to target vehicle thefts and burglaries (for investigative purposes, no further description of the “bait vehicles” will be provided). These “bait vehicles” were used in conjunction with Sheriff Mike Haley’s ACES (Area Crime Evaluation System) Program’s Intelligence Led Policing/Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS), which identified a series of vehicle burglaries occurring at the Michael D. Thompson Trailhead.

Based on the analysis of the series, resources were deployed in a targeted operation. As of Friday, at least 11 vehicle burglaries have been identified as part of this series, but there may be additional incidents that haven’t been reported to the Sheriff’s Office.  Prior to this series, the ACES program had not identified any burglaries at that trailhead in the preceding five years.

Detectives placed the vehicle at the trailhead parking area and maintained surveillance in the area.  At approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday, an undercover detective from the All Threats All Crimes Unit (ATAC), who was hidden in the nearby brush, witnessed a gold-colored GMC SUV enter the parking area.  Two passengers exited the SUV and began looking into the windows of vehicles in the area.

Nicholas Walther, a 21-year-old Reno resident, used a glass punch to break the window of the “bait vehicle.” He then removed a laptop computer and a GPS device.  The other suspect, a 17-year-old Sun Valley resident, was observed peering into another vehicle in the area.  The two then jumped into the SUV, which left the area. Unbeknownst to the occupants, more detectives and K9 Teams were positioned down the road waiting for them.  All four were taken into custody, and the laptop and GPS device were recovered.

The driver, 20- year-old Flor Lopez of Reno, was arrested for Conspiracy to Commit Burglary and Conspiracy to Possess Stolen Property.  Her bail is set at $5,000.

Walther was arrested for Burglary, Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Burglary Tools, Grand Larceny, Destruction of Property, two Probation Violations, and Possession of Marijuana.  He also had a warrant for Failure to Appear.  He has no bail due to the probation violations.

Maria Aguinaga, a 21-year-old Sun Valley resident, was arrested for Possession of Marijuana, Probation Violation and a Failure to Appear warrant.  She has no bail due to the probation violation.

The 17-year-old male was detained at the Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center for Burglary, Possession of Stolen Property and Possession of Marijuana.

Detectives continue to follow up on the series and seek the public’s assistance regarding any information related to the four arrested suspects.  The day prior to the arrest, a gold-colored Honda four-door sedan with Nevada license plates was seen in the area casing vehicles.  Although detectives are confident these four suspects are involved with the series, there may be more individuals yet to be identified.

Detective Sergeant Tom Green reminds users of trailheads and parks to avoid leaving valuables in their cars if at all possible.  He said, “If you must leave a purse or other valuables in your vehicle, hide the items before you arrive in a trunk or other place out of view.”  He also encourages citizens to report crimes promptly so that trends such as this can be addressed quickly.

Detectives may be reached by calling the Special Operations Division at 775-328-3320.  Anonymous tips may be provided to Secret Witness by calling 775-322-4900, through their website www.secretwitness.com , or via text message to 847-411 keyword: SW.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrated 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 25th person elected to serve as the sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process, traditional street patrols and Regional Animal Services.

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