3 arrested after burglar caught red-handed

July 29, 2009 9:38:33 AM PDT
Palo Alto police arrested three people Sunday after a woman caught a man stealing a bicycle out of her garage and was able to quickly report his description, vehicle and license plate information to 911 as he drove off in a pickup truck.

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Police say Agustin Hernandez, 25, of East Palo Alto was trying to steal a bicycle from a home in the 800 block of Seale Avenue around 12:25 p.m. when a woman who lived there walked in on him.

Hernandez dropped the bike and ran away, said Agent Max Nielepko, a Palo Alto police spokesman. The woman was able to get outside in time to see a red Ford pickup truck speeding away with a woman behind the wheel, he said, and called 911 immediately.

"She gave a very good vehicle description, a partial license plate and a suspect description," he said.

Twenty minutes later, police stopped the truck near University and Woodland avenues, Nielepko said, near the edge of town. They arrested Hernandez and the driver, Cecilia Rodriguez, 33, of Menlo Park who also had outstanding warrants for burglary and theft, he said. The pair had picked up a third passenger, Natalie Ortiz, 19, of Menlo Park, who appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance, according to police.

In the truck, police found a large quantity of stolen items, Nielepko said, including bicycles and electronics. Officers connected some of the stolen property to a burglary from earlier that day in the 800 block of Hamilton Avenue. That theft had not even been discovered or reported yet, Nielepko said.

The three were arrested in connection with the burglaries and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail, according to Nielepko. He praised the homeowner on Seale Avenue for her quick action in contacting police.

"We definitely credit the homeowner for getting a very good description and calling us very quickly, he said. "That's how we are able to catch these guys."

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