FOLSOM (CBS13) — Investigators in Folsom say they have uncovered an extensive mail theft ring that was allegedly conducted by people who had to be released from jail due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Folsom police the suspects first got on their radar back on May 10 when an investigation led officers to discover hundreds of pieces of stolen mail. Identity theft manufacturing equipment and a stolen car were also found.

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Officers say one of the suspects – 26-year-old Desiree Sanchez – used someone’s stolen information to buy a car, then used that person’s identity again to buy a second car.

Photo of Desiree Sanchez provided by the Folsom Police Department.

Sanchez and a man, 27-year-old Richard Waters, were arrested that day and booked in Sacramento County Jail. However, they were both eventually released from custody.

Several days later, Sanchez was arrested again in Pittsburg. Police say she was in possession of even more stolen mail belonging to Folsom residents. However, police say a recent case of a person testing positive for coronavirus at the Martinez Main Jail in Contra Costa prevented Sanchez from being booked. Instead, she was cited and released at the scene.

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Sanchez, Waters, and a third person – 28-year-old Roger Joseph – were then arrested several days later in El Dorado County on suspicion of mail theft. Six shopping bags full of mail stolen from El Dorado Hills residents was discovered by officers.

Still, after being booked, all three suspects were released from El Dorado County Jail.

“This is yet another example of criminals taking advantage of the system.  Desiree Sanchez and Richard Waters should be in jail rather than free to roam and victimize our residents,” said Chief Rick Hillman.

Investigators believe the suspects were able to fraudulently buy at least five vehicles with stolen personal information.

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Police note that Sanchez is being investigated by nearly a dozen different law enforcement agencies: Folsom, Sacramento, Colma, Concord, Bakersfield, Walnut Creek, El Dorado County and Contra Costa County.