***September Officer of the Month***
Over July and August, there were multiple thefts from unlocked cars in the South Area of the City. Detective Rojas was assigned as the case agent. He reviewed the 17 cases from the Tustin crimes, as well as cases from the City of Santa Ana and Irvine. He worked with Crime Analyst Howard and they sent out an “Attempt to Identify” flyer, using images from video footage, which captured the suspect trying door handles of cars at Westchester Park, Montesilla Mobile Home Park, and Columbus Square.
Close to midnight on August 10, one of the K-9 teams made contact with a female subject riding a skateboard westbound on Edinger Avenue. She was carrying a small bag, and wearing a backpack. She gave the officer permission to search her bags, however, gave him a false name. He located a methamphetamine pipe in her possession. While talking to her, the officer remembered the flyer and believed her to be the suspect. A female officer arrived to conduct a search of her person and found several baggies of methamphetamine and one baggie of heroin.
Detective Rojas was notified and he responded to the station. Detective Rojas and Officer Mitchell conducted an inventory of the contents of her bags including multiple credit cards not in her name, several gift cards, several pairs of sunglasses, pepper spray, miscellaneous pieces of jewelry, a blank check, and a large amount of coins. They also determined her real identity. A records check revealed a felony warrant for her arrest, and that she was on Post Release Community Supervision. She was arrested and booked into Orange County Jail.
Detective Rojas began the massive task of identifying all of the victims. Over the course of the next week, he identified 19 victims in the City of Tustin, Irvine, and Santa Ana. They in turn identified their belongings, and all were desirous of prosecution. Based on the evidence, and the commonality of all the crimes, Detective Rojas submitted over 40 additional charges to the OC District Attorney’s office for consideration. He also returned many of the stolen items to their rightful owners.
Detective Rojas’ communication skills, diligence, and determination removed a serial thief with an extensive criminal history and ties to a local gang from the streets of Tustin and surrounding cities. For solving this case, he has been selected as the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Officer of the Month Award for September 2018. Congratulations Detective Rojas.