Monday, April 20, 2009

West Portal Night Burglar Caught in Dragnet by Taraval Police Officers

Over the past few days, there has been a string of burglaries of single family dwellings. They have occurred in the late night and early morning hours in the West Portal, St. Francis Wood and Forest Hill neighborhoods. The residences have been entered through rear and side windows or doors, with the burglar taking laptop computers and other valuables. On numerous occasions, residents were home asleep when the burglaries occurred.

We formulated a plan to address this crime series. Part of the plan, over the past four days, was to saturate the affected neighborhoods with plainclothes officers from Taraval Station. This was a coordinated effort aimed at being able to respond to a reported crime within seconds and seal off the possible escape route of a suspect or suspects. The plan also focused on public awareness and the importance of immediately reporting any suspicious activity.

Yesterday morning (4/19/09) at 1:45 AM, a couple asleep on Forest Side, in West Portal, heard noises in their home. They awoke to an escaping burglar, who had entered through a ground level side window and then gone into the residence. The suspect took a laptop computer, iPhone and camera. The residents called 911 and Taraval officers responded to the scene, surrounding the area within seconds. Officers Jose Guardado, Duane Elzey, Juan Gala and Gregory Pak were part of a larger group of officers in the area. They spotted a man at the West Portal tunnel who was acting suspiciously and in possession of a bag with a computer and camera, partly sticking out of the bag. The suspect was trying to hide himself in a bus shelter and was constantly peering out at a nearby marked police car. The officers detained the suspect, found a witness who saw the suspect walking with the bag and found the victims' iPhone, camera and laptop.

Subsequent investigation revealed that three other residences on Forest Side and Magellan were burglarized in the early morning hours today as well. Some of the property from a burglary on Magellan was found in the bag controlled by the suspect.

The suspect, who is on parole for a burglary conviction, and has addresses in the South of Market and in Visitacion Valley, was arrested for burglary, receiving stolen property, and a parole violation. The investigation by members of the Taraval Police Station, Burglary Detail Inspectors and the Crime Scene Investigations Unit continues.

We are proud of the work of the officers of Taraval Police Station to protect our community.