A high-tech Redondo Beach police sting operation nets an unexpected bounty: dozens of career criminals
It has been the nature of theft, until now, that its perpetrators are either caught in the act or else generally not caught at all. When the bike thief cut the lock and then made it onto the Green Line with the bait bike, he likely thought — with good reason — that he was in the clear. He couldn’t have known a GPS signal had entered the equation.
The man’s name was John Gonzalez. He was wearing a backpack; inside was a pair of gloves and a set of bolt-cutters. After briefly feigning ignorance, he quickly realized he had been caught and cooperated. Gonzalez, 51, was living in a small shack behind a relative’s house. Inside the shack detectives found the bait bike and a cut lock.
Gonzalez had a long criminal history, which included prior thefts. He eventually accepted a plea bargain deal in which he was sentenced to 32 months in jail. He also had a “hold” placed on him by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.
The bike, in this instance, had been deployed on Imperial Avenue in El Segundo because of several thefts that had already occurred in the area – mostly car break-ins in which computers and personal electronic items were stolen. Naylor said it seemed likely the man they’d arrested had been the culprit. Career criminals are opportunists.
“I feel pretty confident based on the evidence that he was responsible for other thefts in the area,” Naylor said. “He took the Green Line right in – he doesn’t have family in the area….More than likely, he was casing the area for items to steal. He’s a good example of a career criminal because he had long criminal history. These are criminals who are cruising through our neighborhoods with burglary tools in their backpacks. They are obviously looking for something to steal.”
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