SWAT impersonators ransack Visalia homes
Suspects remain at-large
Authorities have yet to make any arrests in a home invasion where several masked gunmen, posing as police, reportedly ransacked two Visalia homes and tied up several victims.
The incident happened at about 4:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 26200 block of Road 164.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department reports that several suspects wearing camouflage clothing, gloves, and tactical-style vests with guns arrived at two separate homes, in two separate cars, and broke into each home at the same time yelling out “SWAT” in English and Spanish.
Reports indicate there were seven victims in one house, three of which were bound at the hands by the suspects. Victims’ ages ranged from 7 to 48 years old.
In the second home there were four victims ages 18 months through 23 years.
The sheriff’s department reports the victims were held at gunpoint while each home was ransacked. The suspects also took the victims’ cell phones to keep them from calling police.
The suspects were on scene for about 45 minutes and stole a 43-inch flat screen TV, a MIG welder, an unloaded rifle in a blue case, jewelry, a small amount of cash, four sets of car keys and about one pound of processed marijuana, the sheriff’s department reports.
Authorities say the stolen items were valued at more than $4,000.
There were no injuries to the victims and the suspects did not shoot their guns.
The suspects reportedly fled in their cars southbound on Road 164 to an unknown location.
The sheriff’s department reports that immediately after the suspects left, one adult victim went outside and fired a gun repeatedly into the ground to gain the attention of nearby neighbors, so they would call 9-1-1 since they did not have phones.
At about 5:55 a.m., a neighbor heard the gunshots and called 9-1-1.
Patrol deputies from the sheriff’s department were dispatched to the scene and a short time later, detectives from the department assumed the investigation.
Anyone with information regarding this case can call the sheriff’s department at 800-808-0488.