On 04/23/2020 at approximately 1515 hours, Border Division CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORC Task Force) Sergeant J. Kelley and Investigator J. Campbell were contacted by the CHP – Santa Ana Area office regarding a high-speed pursuit that had just occurred in Costa Mesa. CHP Officer Mackay had initiated a traffic stop on SR-73 Northbound, north of Bison Ave in the city of Irvine, California. The stop was for a speeding violation (93mph in a 65mph zone) on a maroon Toyota Camry. As Officer Mackay approached the vehicle on foot to contact the driver, the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed and a vehicle pursuit ensued. Eventually the two occupants abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot in separate directions. Responding CHP officers located and detained both suspects. They were identified as Thomas Viramontes, who was driving, and a passenger, Lauren Vollaire. Kelley and Campbell recognized the suspects as a pair of thieves they had been investigating for previous thefts in San Diego after being contacted by CVS.

During a vehicle inventory of the suspect vehicle, officers noticed a large quantity of new retail items from CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid. The CHP ORC Task Force was called when CHP officers on scene recognized that the large number of brand new items, most of them the same product, in the vehicle as being consistent with retail theft. Upon further investigation by the ORC Task Force it was discovered the suspects had been committing thefts earlier in the day at CVS and Rite Aid within the cities of Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and Irvine prior to being stopped by CHP. Approximately $5,000 worth of stolen property was discovered inside the suspect vehicle. The suspects were booked at Orange County jail.

The case will be filed with the Orange County District Attorney’s office under California’s new Penal Code section 490.4, which was authored to combat organized groups that target retailers and grocers for thefts. Along with Penal Code section 490.4, the suspects will also be charged with Looting During a Crisis, Grand Theft, and Failure to Yield.

The article above was released by the California Highway Patrol.