A four-month investigation led to three men from the same family being charged with entering autos throughout South Hall communities between April and June, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Carlos Ernesto Lopez, Jr., 19, of Gainesville; Jan Carlos Lopez, 22, of Oakwood; and Michael David Lopez, 32, of Gainesville, are accused of operating a local theft ring in Oakwood, Flowery Branch and Chestnut Mountain, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth wrote in a news release.
Booth said Michael Lopez is Carlos Lopez’s uncle. Jan and Michael Lopez are cousins.
The Sheriff’s Office worked with the Braselton, Gainesville and Oakwood police departments as part of the investigation.
Booth said the three men formed a group “responsible for numerous entering auto and general theft cases as well as burglary and motor vehicle theft.” They were charged with a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Authorities say Michael Lopez also stole an SUV from a residence in the 3000 block of Gilleland Circle in Gainesville, Booth said. The car was recovered the day it went missing, and Lopez was arrested June 3, Booth said.
He has been charged with two counts of entering auto and criminal trespass.
Carlos Lopez was arrested June 9 at his residence after investigators obtained warrants for computer trespass and theft by taking connected to the same SUV, Booth said.
Booth said Carlos Lopez deleted a program from a computer “stolen in the crime,” though he did not provide further details. Carlos Lopez was also charged with second-degree burglary, 10 counts of entering auto and criminal trespass.
Jan Lopez was the last arrested, on Aug. 18, and he was charged with nine counts of entering auto.
All three were being held in the Hall County Jail on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
The case is still under investigation.