SOUTH PASADENA — Police jailed a Pasadena man Wednesday on suspicion of stealing mail from at least a dozen South Pasadena residents over the past week, officials said.
Efrain DeSoto Jr., 24, was booked on suspicion of mail theft, receiving stolen property, possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license after he was pulled over by South Pasadena police about 3:55 p.m. at Hill Drive and Collis Avenue, Detective Richard Lee said in a written statement.
Officers noticed DeSoto and his 1994 Chevrolet Trailblazer matched the description given in connection with the theft of mail from several homes in the 1900 block of Alpha Avenue a week ago, Lee said. Police stopped him for a traffic violation and discovered he was driving on a suspended license.
In the center console of DeSoto’s SUV, police found methamphetamine, a glass smoking pipe and mail belonging to other people, the detective said.
“Additional mail — checks — and a bolt-cutter were found in the rear cargo area wrapped inside a shirt,” Lee said.
The mail was addressed to alleged victims throughout the San Gabriel Valley, police said.
Twelve apparent victims had been identified Thursday, Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said.
DeSoto admitted to police that he had just stolen mail before he was pulled over, Lee said. He also admitted stealing the mail last week.
According to county booking records, DeSoto was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTO of Efrain DeSoto Jr., 24, of Pasadena courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department.
SOUTH PASADENA — Police Wednesday arrested three South Pasadena High School students accused of breaking into Marengo Elementary School and stealing iPads over the weekend, officials said.
The three teenage boys are suspected of a weekend burglary, which was first discovered Monday at Marengo Elementary School, 1400 Marengo Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Brian Solinsky said. All three were 17 years old. Their names were withheld due to their age.
Police responded to the elementary school campus shortly before 1 p.m. Monday to investigate a break-in, Solinsky said.
“It was determined someone entered two of the classrooms over the previous weekend and stole five Apple iPads,” the sergeant said.
“During the investigation, several witnesses came forward to provide information, which led to the identification of three south Pasadena High School students,” Solinsky said. They were arrested Wednesday either at school or at home.
“Three of the missing iPads were located and recovered,” he said. “The other two were discarded by one of the students shortly after the theft.”
The teens were arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary and released to their parents with court dates, officials said.
SOUTH PASADENA — A 3-year-old girl was hospitalized in critical condition but expected to recover after choking on a grape Thursday afternoon, officials said.
A panicked mother called 9-1-1 about 4 p.m. to report her daughter was choking on a grape at a home in the 1100 block of Pine Street, South Pasadena police Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said.
South Pasadena police and paramedics arrived to find the girl unconscious and struggling to breathe, he said.
“The obstruction could not be located or removed at the scene,” the corporal said.
So paramedics loaded the girl into an ambulance and police blocked intersections with their squad cars as rescuers rushed the choking victim to the hospital, he said.
Once at the hospital, doctors were able to remove the grape from the child’s throat, Ronnie said.
She remained in critical condition late Thursday, he said. “They believe she’s going to recover.”
SOUTH PASADENA — Authorities are investigating the death of an Altadena man who was struck by a Metro Gold Line train Saturday.
The fatal incident took place just after 4:10 p.m. near Monterey Road and Pasadena Avenue, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Transportation Services Bureau spokesman Ramon Montenegro said.
The name of the dead man was not released Sunday pending notification of his family, coroner’s officials said. He was described as 57 years old.
A witness account indicated the man was standing on the tracks between two crossing arms, which were believed to be down and working properly, when struck by the northbound commuter train, Montenegro said.
But the specific circumstances of the incident remained under investigation.
South Pasadena Fire Department paramedics rushed to the scene, South Pasadena police Sgt. Brian Solinsky said.
“All possible live-saving measures were attempted, and the victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” he said.
Service was briefly shut down between the Highland Park and Pasadena Gold Line station, and buses were used to transport passengers, Montenegro said. Service on the line was delayed for about 20 minutes.
PASADENA — Police working with a nonprofit community organization cited three stores in South Pasadena and one in Pasadena in recent weeks for selling alcohol to minors during a compliance check, officials said.
Officials made use of decoys to try and buy alcohol at 10 businesses in Pasadena on Nov. 22, as well as 10 businesses in South Pasadena on Dec. 13, representatives of the Pasadena-based nonprofit organization Day One said in a written statement.
One business in Pasadena, K + S Mobile at 1813 E. Colorado Boulevard, sold alcohol to the minor decoy, according to Day One.
Three businesses in South Pasadena failed the test, officials said. They were Big Lots, 1401 Huntington Drive; Ralphs, 1745 Garfield Ave.; and Carmines Italian Restaurant, 424 Fair Oaks Ave.
“Findings from studies conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism noted that underage alcohol use kills more young people than all illegal drugs combines,” according to the Day one statement.
SOUTH PASADENA — Police jailed two men earlier this week after they were found in possession of a purse that had been stolen in a South Pasadena car burglary, authorities said.
Elvis Ayala, 31, and Andres Alvares, 23, both of Los Angeles, were booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property following their arrests early Tuesday in the 1000 block of Highland Street, according to South Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A resident called police about 3:40 a.m. to report seeing two men getting out of a parked car, South Pasadena police Detective Richard Lee said in a written statement. Ayala immediately surrendered to arriving police officers, while Alvares ran.
Alhambra and San Marino police helped South Pasadena officers track Alvares down in a nearby yard, Lee said. He was found with a backpack that contained a purse that had been stolen from an unlocked car just around the corner, in the 900 block of Buena Vista Street.
PHOTOS of Elvis Ayala (top) and Andres Alvares (below) courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department.
SOUTH PASADENA — Police jailed two women and a man after they were found driving around with stolen property and burglary tools early Wednesday, officials said. Among the suspects were a woman on parole for carjacking, as well as a documented member of the Mongols motorcycle gang.
Andrew Duarte, 32, Michelle Armenta, 37, and Rachelle Galarze, 35, all of Los Angeles, were booked on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools and identity theft in connection with the early-morning incident, South Pasadena police Sgt. Brian Solinski said in a written statement.
Armenta was already on parole for carjacking, and Duarte is on probation and a known member of the Mongols, Officer Spencer Louie said.
An officer was on patrol about 1:55 a.m. at Huntington Drive and Maple Street when he spotted a black Honda Civic stopped in the middle of the road with it’s headlights off, Solinski said.
“As the officer went to investigate, the Honda drove off, refusing to stop for the officer,” the sergeant said. “The Honda eventually stopped a half-mile away in the 55000 block of Berkshire Avenue in Los Angeles.”
The three suspects were detained without a struggle, he said.
Inside their car police found stolen credit cards and identification, handheld radios and tools used for burglary, Solinski said.
According to booking records, Duarte and Galarze were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending their initial court appearances, while Armenta was being held without bail.
The investigation was ongoing, and anyone with information was asked to contact South Pasadena police detectives at 626-403-7270.
SOUTH PASADENA — Two men tied up and robbed a woman who arrived home Friday afternoon, interrupting a burglary, police said.
The victim, a woman estimated to be in her late-40s, arrived home about 6:20 p.m. in the 1500 block of Camino Lindo, near Flores De Oro, South Pasadena police Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said. Unbeknownst to her, two intruders had forced their way into her home by smashing a rear sliding glass door.
One of the men was armed with a knife, and they made mention of a gun, though the victim did not see it, he said.
The men ordered the woman to open a floor safe inside the home, the corporal said. “She couldn’t remember the combination due to stress. They tied her up and shoved her in the bathroom.”
The woman’s hands were bound with a pillowcase, Ronnie said. The men also stole the woman’s wedding ring from her finger.
“They told her since she was cooperating, they wouldn’t kill her,” he added.
While the woman was bound in the bathroom, the intruders forced the safe out of the floor and left, Ronnie said. The safe contained an unknown amount of jewelry.
Once the robbers had fled, the woman freed herself and called police.
The terrified woman was not injured in the incident, Ronnie said.
The robbers were initially described only as two black men of average height, both wearing dark clothing and black leather gloves.
Anyone with information can reach South Pasadena police at 626-403-7270.
SOUTH PASADENA — Police arrested a man and recovered lawn mowers and other equipment stolen from a gardening truck early Wednesday, authorities said.
The alleged theft took place just after 8:20 a.m. in the 2000 block of Milan Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Brian Solinsky said. A neighbor called police to report seeing to men stealing garden equipment from a truck parked along the street.
“As she was on the phone with police, the two suspect got into black Toyota pickup and fled the scene,’ Solinsky said. “Officers responded and checked the area. They located two suspects driving in their vehicle at West Huntington (Drive) and Van Horne (Avenue) in the City of L.A.”
The passenger of the pickup truck ran to a nearby alley and escaped, the sergeant said. The driver was taken into custody without a fight.
The gardening equipment that had been stolen from Milan Avenue was recovered inside the suspects’ truck, he added.
The name of the arrested suspect was not immediately available pending the booking process.
SOUTH PASADENA — Coroner’s officials Friday released the name of a Los Angeles man fatally wounded by an off-duty California State University, Los Angeles police officer last weekend after allegedly shooting at the officer, authorities said.
Justo Quintero, 30, died at a hospital shortly after Sunday’s 1 a.m. shooting in the 1000 block of Arroyo Verde Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Los Angeles County homicide detectives released little information regarding the encounter between the two men, citing the ongoing investigation and concerns for the safety of the officer, whose name has not been released, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
She declined to say why the officer was in the area, and said it was unclear why Quintero was there. The men did not know each other before the encounter early Sunday.
There was no argument, however the officer and suspect did exchange words, Francisco said. She declined to discuss the nature of the conversation, but said the officer did not identify himself as an off-duty law enforcement officer during the exchange.
“The suspect ended up pointing a firearm at him,” Francisco said. “The suspect did fire at the officer.”
The officer was not struck by multiple gunshots fired by Quintero, Francisco said. The officer returned fire, striking Quintero several times in the upper body.
Quintero got into a nearby car and began driving away before crashing into a parked car nearby, sheriff’s officials said. He was detained by South Pasadena police and taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena where he died from his wounds.
The officer was treated for abrasions to his face, though it was not clear exactly how he sustained them, Francisco added.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.