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UPDATE: Police chase in Valencia nabs 3 suspects

Adds details throughout, video

Posted: May 7, 2013 10:49 a.m.
Updated: May 7, 2013 5:21 p.m.

Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station coordinate their efforts to find suspects thought to be involved in a burglary on Tuesday. (Jim Holt/The Signal)

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Three people suspected of burglary for allegedly stealing a safe from a Saugus home were behind bars Tuesday after a wild ride through the Santa Clarita Valley, and a foot chase across the Santa Clara River, officials and witnesses said.

Two men from Palmdale and a Los Angeles woman, who was identified as the getaway driver, were in the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station jail Wednesday afternoon, each charged with burglary, said Deputy Josh Dubin.

Shortly before 10 a.m., deputies received a report of a “suspicious man trying to open door knobs” of homes in Saugus, he said.

At 10:16 a.m., a Saugus resident on Paige Place, north of Plum Canyon Road near Golden Valley Road, called them to report thieves removing a safe the size of a mini refrigerator from a home on that street, Dubin said.
“It was about 200 to 300 pounds,” Dubin said.

The thieves were reported driving away in a tan-colored Honda with black bumpers. Deputies caught up with such a car in the area of Cinema Drive near Bouquet Canyon Road and a three- to four-minute chase ensued until it was called off due to safety concerns, Dubin said.

“We decided it (the pursuit) was too great a risk to public safety since the driver was driving so erratic, blowing through red lights — so we stopped the pursuit,” he said.

Dubin said the Honda sideswiped a car on Valencia Boulevard and was found on a road inside the Valencia Westfield Town Center Mall near Sears — the safe still inside.

Deputies followed reports of two suspects running across Valencia Boulevard and into the paseos. They caught up with the pair on Carrizo Drive behind Granary Square.

Other deputies pursuing the third suspect tracked their man to a car dealership on Creekside.

“He came over to the detailing shop and asked to use the phone,” said P.J. Palencia, parts and service director for Valencia Kia, who encountered the wanted man before he was apprehended.

“We told him you have to use the phone in the showroom, and he walks nice and easy over to the showroom,” he said.

As the suspect entered the showroom, six deputies entered from the other side and ran across the Kia dealership after the man.

At that point the man forgot about the phone and bolted, Palencia said.

“There were cars, motorcycles, a helicopter, police coming from every direction,” said Joe Caracciolo, general manager of the dealership.

The suspect slid down a dusty 15-foot embankment at the back of the Valencia Kia parking lot and onto the bike path that skirts the Santa Clara River. He then hopped the bike path fence and jumped into the wash.

“There were 10 police (deputies) after this guy. Three went into the wash, four stayed here and four stayed at the rail,” he said, pointing at the bike path fence.

“He tried to hide in the trees and in the bush, but then he popped up and appeared again,” Palencia said.

By this time, deputies in at least six cruisers entered the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball complex and were waiting for the wanted man.

Deputies were also posted at both ends of the wash — at McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard — and on the north side at Bridgeport. Bridgeport Elementary School was locked down for about a half hour beginning at 10:15 a.m., said Lori Oster, office manager for the school.

As the suspect — wearing a T-shirt and jeans — darted across the wash, a helicopter circled overhead.

“I’ve never seen so many cops,” Palencia said. “This guy was running and the cops started running.”

Deputies reported arresting the third suspect near the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball park shortly after 11 a.m.

Charged with burglary were 19-year-old Matthew Jackson and 20-year-old Oscar Mendoza, both of Palmdale and Jazmin Mendoza, 21, of Los Angeles.

Other charges are pending, Dubin said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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