On March 22, San Diego Police Department Northern Division patrol officers arrested 44-year-old Jose Luis Manjarre-Ledesma in connection with the crime series. Officers made a traffic stop on the suspect. He was interviewed and later arrested. His vehicle was impounded.
For several months, PB residents had been reporting patio furniture being stolen from their front porches in the late-night and early-morning hours.
In several of the cases, video surveillance captured the picture of a Hispanic male with a mustache. Surveillance also had captured video footage of a dark SUV with Baja plates. In one scene, the thief reportedly was in his stockinged feet after removing his shoes.
SDPD Sgt. John Harberth said the patio-theft series remained under investigation.
“There are about a dozen cases that we know of, and there probably are more out there, after several months of patio furniture being taken,” Harberth said noting such thefts are “crimes of opportunity.”
“People shouldn’t leave patio furniture unsecured on their porch, especially not during late-night or early-morning hours,” he said, while praising citizens’ contributions for cracking the case.
“The work of citizens who had video surveillance, that was really the catalyst, how we located someone,” Harberth said. “Without that video — we probably wouldn’t have captured someone.”
Harberth offered a security suggestion for residents.
“Put motion lights up,” he said, adding crook look to commit the easiest crimes first. He offered car theft as one example.
“Crooks will pick the car that is unlocked, rather than break into cars that are locked,” he said.
It was uncertain whether the patio thefts would be considered felonies or misdemeanors. Harberth noted that a total theft evaluation of $950 is the dividing line between a felony grand theft charge, or a lesser misdemeanor count.
“There are a number of factors involved, included what was stolen, and the costs,” he said.
PB residents were elated about news of the patio thief’s arrest, but were uncertain his punishment would fit his crimes.
“Let’s see how this justice system works,” said Gary Ries of Riviera Sail Bay. “Will he have to pay back his victims that we caught on video? Will he walk, or get 30-, 90-, 180- or 365-days in jail and be released after doing half or less time? Will he be sent to prison for two or more years?”
“Consequences matter, even if they seem small at the time,” said Lynda Schmidt, also of Riviera Sail Bay. “The important thing is repetition. Very glad to hear the thief was at least inconvenienced, and is now on record.”
“With our liberal system and judges he'll get off easy,” said Larry Weeks, Jr. of southwest Bay Ho.
Ries added he felt the “absolute minimum” the alleged perpetrator should get is “three years in prison suspended, 365 days in jail (must do at least half), victim restitution, forfeiture of his vehicle and GPS monitoring during three years formal probation.
There is one more penalty Ries would add.
“The suspect should appear at a Pacific Beach Town Council meeting to address what he did, why he did it, and allow us to ask questions.”
“I’m just glad of the great work of the citizens of PB who were able to help us,” concluded Harberth.