Pleasanton police said Friday that they believe they caught a pair of thieves responsible for at least 33 automobile break-ins when they captured the men after a high-speed chase on I-580.
Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber said the two men, both 22 years old, were arrested after witnesses observed them burglarizing a vehicle in the Stoneridge Shopping Center parking lot. Multiple officers responded to the scene to search for the suspects and located them within minutes of the initial call.
As officers attempted to detain the suspects, who were driving a teal 1987 Buick LeSabre, the pair failed to stop and led officers on a vehicle pursuit which ended when the Buick crashed on westbound I-580. No other cars were involved in the Dec. 19 accident.
Police arrested the driver, Rafael Gamaz of Oakland and his passenger, Jose Ramos of Hayward. Both men were taken to Santa Rita jail on charges of burglary and possession of stolen property, with Gamaz also charged with evading police.
Schlehuber said the arrests follow investigations by Pleasanton police of multiple automobile burglaries in and around shopping centers throughout the city, in addition to Stoneridge. During this investigation, a consistent pattern was determined based on the type of vehicles being entered, the method or mode of entry and the type of property taken. Plain clothes officers were ultimately deployed in an effort to apprehend the suspects involved in these cases while detectives followed up on various leads.
On Dec. 19, witnesses saw two men burglarizing a vehicle at Stoneridge Mall and called police. Officers responded and located them within minutes of the initial call, Schlehuber said. That's when Gamaz and Ramos drove off and onto westbound I-580.
In the Buick, police also found stolen property from a second automobile burglary in the vicinity of the mall. A further investigation, which included the execution of a search warrant and additional interviews, has cleared approximately 33 of the automobile burglaries reported in Pleasanton since January 2011, Schlehuber said.