Grandma, Parents Arrested When Minors Used in Theft

A family of eight went on a shopping spree the night of October 10, but they had no intention of paying. In the end, however, they paid the price for their crimes.

Earlimart residents Maria Diaz, Maria De Los Angel Vargas, Jesus Joel Torrez and five of their juvenile relatives were spotted by security as the family shopped the aisles at the E. Prosperity Avenue Wal-Mart store in Tulare on a Friday night, according to Tulare Police Captain Jerry Breckinridge.

Store employees kept an eye on the clan even as the younger kids were on the lookout, making sure the coast was clear as their grandmother Diaz, and Vargas and Torrez took store merchandise from the shelves.

When the family left the store without paying for the dog costume, bracelets, and other goods they had picked up, Wal-Mart employees took action, stopping the group. The family admitted it had entered the store intending to steal, according to Capt. Breckinridge.

Tulare Police took over and the adults were arrested. Diaz, 48, Vargas, 22, and Torrez, 24, were charged with felony burglary and contributing to the delinquency of minors. Diaz also had two outstanding warrants for driving under the influence. All three were booked into Tulare County Jail.

The two oldest minors were released to their parents, while their younger cousins were released to child welfare services, Capt. Breckinridge said.

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