Lafayette police corralled a pair of busy suspected burglars caught stuffing a MINI Cooper with other folk’s belongings this Thanksgiving Week, chasing the chugging compact around town a bit before closing in and cuffing the occupants while they tried to negotiate Deer Hill Road with two tires blown out.
The battered Mini, a little the worse for wear after its impromptu tour of Lafayette, was stuffed with goods apparently taken in burglaries throughout the area, police said.
Things got started on Wednesday at around 11:30 a.m. when police were dispatched to Nordstrom Lane in the city and a report that a frightened homeowner was watching two men burglarize their car – and that they had used the garage door opener in the car to open the garage door.
The victim described the suspect’s car as a white Mini Cooper and gave police a running account of its movements as the burglars, aware they were being watched, attempted to leave the wrong way down the dead-end street – eventually realizing their mistake.
Police Chief Eric Christensen said his officers were on the scene by that time, spotted the Mini hastening from the area and, in police parlance, “lit it up.” The suspects in the car were apparently not eager to meet the police behind them because Christensen reported that they attempted to flee, touching off a circuitous pursuit around the Lafayette BART station during which the Mini blew out two of its tires as the driver took evasive action.
According to the police account: “While attempting to locate the on-ramp to west-bound Highway 24, the suspects overshot the on-ramp and continued while losing yet another tire on Deer Hill, turning onto First Street. Realizing the first street on-ramp was for east-bound Highway 24, the suspects returned to Deer Hill Road. As the vehicle turned onto east-bound Deer Hill, the vehicle began to stall as it could not climb the incline of the road…”
Stuffed with loot and with two tires gone, police said they were able to close in on the Mini and take the Suspected Pre-Thanksgiving Burglars into custody.
Police arrested: David Garibay, 22, who has no known address, and Alejandro Zamora, 18, of Oakland.
Investigators determined that the suspects had removed the license plates from the vehicle and replaced them with paper dealer plates (a common practice to avoid detection by officers and Automated License Plate Readers) and had stolen the car several days prior in San Francisco.
Inside the vehicle, CSI personnel located property from multiple auto burglaries and other thefts. Investigators learned the suspects had performed an auto burglary in unincorporated Walnut Creek prior to the Nordstrom Lane crime. The property from both crimes were located within the vehicle.
Both suspects were transported to the police station and then later transferred to the jail in Martinez. Both suspects remain in custody, with significant bails amounts and Lafayette police investigators have now reportedly identified multiple victims of crimes perpetrated by these two suspects.
Police are attempting to contact each of the remaining victims and return various items of property to them. Investigators will be meeting with representatives from the District Attorney’s Office to file charges on both of the suspects, according to police.