An Arroyo Grande man arrested last week following a rash of car thefts across San Luis Obispo County faces about 10 years in San Luis Obispo County Jail after prosecutors accused him of six of those thefts last week.
Prosecutors on Thursday charged Zachary James Hamlin, 37, with six felony counts of vehicle theft, and misdemeanor charges of possessing burglary tools and obstructing a peace officer. He has not yet entered a plea and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department said in a July 24 news release that the county’s auto theft task force had received about 40 stolen vehicle reports — a “sharp increase,” they said — in July in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. The police department identified Hamlin as a suspect and said he was responsible for “several” of the stolen cars.
The next day, police discovered a stolen car in the 200 block of Whiteley Street in Arroyo Grande, and allegedly watched Hamlin enter the vehicle. He was arrested after a brief foot chase and booked into jail on suspicion of 15 counts of vehicle theft, according to jail records.
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The majority of the stolen cars reported stolen in July have been Honda Civics and Accords dating to the late 1990s to early 2000s, police said.
According to the criminal complaint, Hamlin is charged with stealing two Honda Civics, an Accord, a Pontiac Grand Am, an Acura Integra, and a Toyota T-100 pickup between July 16 and July 25.
A spokesman for the San Luis Obispo Police Department did not respond to questions Monday about whether Hamlin is suspected in any other thefts or whether the investigation was still ongoing. A deputy district attorney who took over the case this week was not available for further questions.
According to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, Hamlin served a prison sentence for transporting a controlled substance in 2014, and has two prior convictions of felony auto theft.
If convicted on current charges, Hamlin faces a maximum sentence of about 10 years. District Attorney Dan Dow said Hamlin would go before a parole eligibility review within two years because of sentencing reforms enacted under last year’s Proposition 57.
He remained in San Luis Obispo County Jail custody in lieu of $100,000 as of Monday afternoon, according to jail records.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had incorrect information regarding when Hamlin would get a parole eligibility review.