***March Officer of the Month***
On March 16, the Crime Analyst gave an updated crime presentation to Squad 2. One of the slides featured a subject suspected of committing a series of front porch package thefts throughout the City. Later that morning as Officer Swart was performing his patrol duties in his assigned area, he saw the car from the earlier presentation near Newport Avenue and 6th Street.
Officer Swart observed a vehicle code violation, and conducted a traffic stop. The registered owner of the car, who was in the passenger seat, matched the suspect of the package thefts. Officer Swart recognized her, and requested back-up. Two of the suspect’s sons – one juvenile and one adult – were in the back seat with the younger son’s girlfriend. The driver was driving without a license, and the suspect and her juvenile son were determined to be on probation with search and seizure waivers as a condition of their probation.
When back-up arrived, Officer Swart searched the car. He located several opened packages addressed to individuals with addresses in Costa Mesa and Tustin. He also found a small amount of methamphetamine, and a stolen laptop out of Irvine. The laptop had a sticker adhered to the top of it, indicating it belonged to the Irvine Unified School District.
Officer Swart skillfully conducted pre-custodial interviews of the car’s occupants, and gained a confession from the juvenile son that he was present when his mother was stealing packages from front porches. The unlicensed male driver admitted to being present and possibly an accessory to some of the thefts.
The original suspect was arrested and booked into Orange County Jail for the thefts, as well as possession of methamphetamine, and child endangerment. The unlicensed driver was arrested, cited, and released. The juvenile probationer was arrested for a probation violation and later released to his adult brother. The laptop was returned to the rightful owner.
This is an excellent example of a patrol officer using initiative and resources available to him to make meaningful arrests of suspects engaged in crime sprees in the City of Tustin. For his tenacity, diligence, and expert interview skills in obtaining confessions, Officer Zachary Swart has been selected as the recipient of the Officer of the Month Award for March 2018. Congratulations Officer Swart!