Danville police find hundreds of stolen purses

February 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Danville police have hundreds of stolen things ready to be reunited with their rightful owners. Investigators recovered all that stuff after making one single arrest. They say the items were stolen from cars throughout the East Bay, in cities along the I-580 and 680 corridor. Police say there is a valuable lesson to be learned from all this.

From high-end purses to expensive electronics, Danville police say all of these items have one thing in common.

"These are all items that were left in plain sight that catch the eye of a criminal. These are all things that could have been prevented had the items been left at home or placed in a trunk," says Danville police Sgt. Allen Shields.

Investigators say people left these valuables either on their car seat or on the floor. Their cars were parked at busy lots throughout the East Bay from shopping centers to churches.

The suspect, 36-year-old Derrick Fields of Oakland, was arrested after an officer spotted him at Blackhawk Plaza. A citizen had called police, reporting that someone was walking around looking into cars.

Danville police officer Mike Ireland was the one who spotted the suspect. He says it did not take long to put two and two together.

"A single man driving a vehicle full of woman's purses kind of stands out," says Officer Ireland.

As for these items, police say they seized them from the suspect's apartment. Investigators believe this is only a sample of what may have been stolen over the years.

"You can go under the assumption that most people are doing these crimes for some sort of consideration whether it's to sell the property or to get something from it," says Sgt. Shields.

Police have so far identified 250 victims through driver's licenses, credit cards, and registered electronics. Investigators have already notified as many as 70. East Bay residents say this is a good reminder to be more careful.

"You can't be complacent and just because we think we live in a safe area or safe neighborhood that you should let your guard down," says Danville resident Tracey Bahlo.

According Danville police, that is a good rule of thumb. They say simple precautions like hiding your valuables can prevent a lot of the crimes from occurring.