Santa Cruz police arrest crime plot mastermind

May 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Santa Cruz police believe they have foiled a high stakes heist by arresting the man they say was the mastermind behind it. Nicholas Yukich, 54, is in the Santa Cruz County jail charged with conspiracy to commit grand theft.

Yukich is a man Santa Cruz police say was on a mission to pull off an elaborate grand theft at a local business sometime in the coming weeks. He worked at UC Santa Cruz and was actively recruiting accomplices and gathering supplies for his master plan. After searching his mobile home Friday morning authorities are extremely glad they were able to stop him.

"Think of it kind of like an Ocean's Eleven kind of a heist. It was a lot of surveillance, a lot of recognizance that had gone into this, a lot of planning to actually carry this out," said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.

An informant tipped off police. They investigated and decided to take action early Friday morning. They arrested Yukich and served a search warrant at his mobile home.

"We discovered a number of firearms that were stored inside of a false wall inside the home. Inside that false wall was yet another false wall that led to additional firearms and ammunition that were seized in the home," said Clark.

Police found rifles, shotguns, pistols, assault weapons and high capacity magazines. There were 48 weapons in all. Some of the weapons were licensed, but many were not. Some had been modified and others violate state laws.

Yukich also had more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition -- some believed to be armor-piercing -- and high capacity magazines.

So police weren't surprised to learn what Yukich did for a living. For close to 30 years, he has been a community safety officer supervisor at UC Santa Cruz, working night shifts on campus. The university says Yukich was immediately placed on investigatory leave when they learned of his arrest. He'll remain on leave until they learn more.

Police say Yukich had no criminal past and there was nothing to suggest he would have targeted the university or any of the students.


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