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Caltech Security officers apprehend career bike thief

04/11/2012
On January 26, 2012 at approximately 1230pm, security officers responded to a bicycle theft at Braun Athletic Center. Upon arrival officers learned that a faculty member had challenged a male who appeared to be cutting a cable to a bike secured in front of the gym. The witness reported that the male calmly explained that the bike belonged to his sister who unfortunately had lost her key and he was forced to cut the lock. The witness then observed the suspect unworriedly ride the bike westbound from the area.

During the investigation security was approached by a female faculty member who reported that the bike in question was hers and that she did not give anyone permission to remove the bike. The Pasadena Police Department was notified and the suspect's physical description was provided to all Caltech officers for future reference.

Caltech Security Supervisors diligently discussed the increase in bicycle thefts with all uniform officers and emphasized that although the locations appeared random, that the method of operation was consistent with this latest theft. The theft of thirty two bicycles over the last six months has been an alarming trend and clearly a distraction to normal security operations.

On Friday, March 9, 2012 at approximately 1230 pm, Security Dispatch received a report of a suspicious male loitering near the bicycle rack in the Avery Courtyard Housing area. Officer Armando Duran immediately dispatched field officers, reporting clothing and physical information on the individual. Officer Frank Rodriguez responded and immediately located a subject fitting the physical and clothing description broadcast by Duran. Supervisor Luis Rubio arrived and approached the male fitting the description holding a bicycle and looking at other secured bikes. Officers John Huerta, Bob Lankford and Troy Villery arrived to assist.

The suspect, later identified as Keith Stan Garcia, was composed as he explained that he simply was smoking a cigarette and enjoying the campus. Garcia calmly explained that he never had been on the campus and when questioned about his bike, he assured the officers that it belonged to him.

Supervisor Rubio, during the interview, observed that Garcia was in possession of cutting tools commonly used by bike thieves. Rubio observed that Garcia fit the general description of the suspect in the January 26th theft. Garcia appeared a little too polished and unruffled in Rubio's opinion given the questions being asked. Rubio requested the assistance of the Pasadena Police Department to verify the legitimate owner of the bike in Garcia's possession. Arrangements were subsequently made for the witness to the theft at Braun Gym to view Garcia in a field lineup for elimination purposes. Garcia was positively identified and subsequently arrested and booked for felony grand theft. The investigation is continuing and undoubtedly will resolve many unsolved bicycle thefts on campus. Garcia is a career criminal and currently on probation for narcotic violations.

Officer Rubio is commended for his tenacity and his unwillingness to be outwitted or disarmed by a smooth talking seasoned street thug. Rubio is recognized for his ability to assess a situation quickly and evaluate his options rapidly. Officer Duran is commended for his thorough and detailed information gathering and his ability to keep the witness calm as he described the actions of the suspect. Officers Rodriguez, Huerta, Lankford and Villery are recognized for their instant response and officer safety tactics as they approached the scene.

All officers are praised for their ability to work as a team and to look after each other in a potentially dangerous setting. "Team work divides the task and multiplies the success".