Crime ring responsible for more than 50 stolen cars, indictment alleges

GREELEY, Colo. — The Weld County District Attorney’s Office is alleging a group of five people are responsible for the theft of more than 50 cars throughout the county beginning in April of last year.

The five people — Amanda Johnson, Austin Carlholm, Ryan Yarwood, Hector Rivera, and Jacob Martinez — were each indicted by a grand Jury on a collective count of 147 charges, including violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, numerous counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft, identity theft, forgery, criminal mischief, and distribution of a controlled substance.

The group is alleged to have stolen vehicles from various locations throughout Northern Colorado, including store and apartment parking lots, and then sell the stolen cars. Many of the suspects were caught with the victims’ credit cards as well, according to the indictment.

“I am incredibly proud of our detectives that saw this very long and intricate investigation,” Greeley Police Chief Adam Turk said in a statement. “Thanks to their efforts, with assistance from our law enforcement partners in BATTLE Group North and the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, multiple defendants are answering for the nearly 150 criminal charges against them.”

The group appeared to have targeted Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which made up almost every vehicle listed in the indictment. The two Korean car makers are facing pressure after a social media trend revealed the relative ease as to how to steal these makes of vehicles using only a USB stick.

In Denver alone, from 2018 to Aug. 7 of this year, auto thefts have skyrocketed by nearly 160%, according to Denver’s crime map, and various Hyundai and Kia models ranked in the top 10 of the most commonly stolen cars in the state during the first quarter of this year.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including detectives from the Greeley Police Department and Colorado State Patrol, investigated the alleged racketeering activity from April 2021 to February 2022.

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