High-Profile Police Action Nets Suspected Burglars In Orinda

A carload of suspected burglars was stopped by Orinda police Tuesday -- and it turns out they had been busy.


Orindans stopped, stared and unlimbered their cell phones after local police moved in on a carload of suspected burglars in the BevMo parking lot Tuesday.

Orinda Police Chief Jeffrey Jennings said that things started off about 11:05 a.m. when a Muth Drive resident called police to report that she saw a white car stop in her neighborhood, an occupant get out and begin knocking on doors while three other individuals remained in the car.

The caller provided a general description of the car and occupants, Jennings said, and it was later determined that all four individuals eventually exited the car and went to the rear of a Muth Drive Home.

An Orinda police sergeant spotted the car, a white Mitsubishi Mirage, on Moraga Way and Orchard Road and followed it to the BevMo parking lot where officers converged and a felony stop was executed at 11:20 a.m. -- officers approaching the suspect car with guns drawn.

The four occupants of the car, all juveniles, were detained for questioning. Police later received a call from a resident reporting that a suspected burglary had taken place on Martha Road. A witness was driven to BevMo by police and the four in-custody juveniles were positively identified as the suspects in the burglary, Jennings said.

The four, whose names were not released due to their age, were arrested for residential burglary and conspiracy, according to the chief. Police allegedly recovered numerous stolen items from the Mitsubishi, including cash, jewelry, cameras, musical instruments and weapons. The four were booked into Juvenile Hall.

According to Jennings, the four have been connected to at least one burglary in Orinda and Lafayette police are investigating to see if they are linked to recent residential burglaries in their jurisdiction.

"Kudos to the Orinda resident who quickly called police when she saw suspicious activity," Jennings said. "This case would not have reached a successful conclusion without her. We encourage residents to call police if they see any suspicious people, vehicles or activity."

Robert Strauss August 08, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Unfortunately I think you may be right.
Andrew L. August 08, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Let's hope they're not "relocated to Lafayette".
Andrew L. August 09, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Thanks, Dick, but my life's very bright -- not dim at all. One of the reasons it's bright is because I know the brave men and women of the local constabulary are working to prevent my family from coming to harm. Sorry I don't agree with your friends' sense of entitlement to "OPP" and I'm glad they were legally pulled over and arrested. Take that noise back over the Caldecott -- it don't play here.
CB August 09, 2012 at 05:00 AM
You could rent Daves dog for $1 a day. Thats a deal.....and no one would steal.
Jose August 09, 2012 at 09:09 AM
CB: If you ever read "Ransome of Red Chief" by O' Henry you would understand that my dog is worth every penny of $1/hr. Let them take the dog for ransome!! They will forswear crime forever afterward! We and the dog can persuade them of the wisdom of following the arduous path of the straight and the narrow path of righteousness, and we won't need Jesus, just the terrier.
Jose August 09, 2012 at 09:15 AM
My mistake, the terrier rents for $1/day not per hour. But think CAREFULLY! before you take this on...
Robert Strauss August 09, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Great work by neighbors and police.
Carolyn Phinney August 09, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Do we know the name of the officer who made this stop? I do think that stopping a car with 4 males of any race in it is dangerous, when you are alone. I certainly wouldn't want to do it. This was brave. It's not racial profiling if a neighbor calls about suspicious behavior. Neighbors know better than anyone what to expect. That's why we have Neighborhood Watch, because the public is very keen at feeling that something is not right. Yes, that neighbor may have felt something was not right in part because these 4 men were black. We will never know. It's not racial profiling if you see suspicious behavior of 4 guys knocking on several doors. You can't NOT report it because they are of any particular race. The solution is to do our best to integrate Orinda by making ourselves a welcoming community, not to blame the perceptive neighbor or the police officer, who made the stop. It's good to be sensitive to these issues, though. So, I am not criticizing those who raised the concern for discussion.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Carolyn: Per Chief Jennings an Orinda sergeant located the car described by neighbors and followed it to the BevMo lot where he/she was joined by other officers in a felony/high-risk stop.
Richard Ford August 09, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I have no qualms with the article as it has been rewritten, and as my fellow neighbors expressed, it's a good thing the police did an exemplary job acting quickly to catch the thieves. However I do continue to frown on how the original article simply stated that the photos featured were from police action stemming from four black individuals seen in the neighborhood. Yes, they were knocking on doors, but that is not a crime. Nor is being black. Some of the horrific comments above ("non-threatening blacks"...really?...are we back in the 60s?) are reinforced by irresponsible journalism. Even under inhuman time constraints and lack of information, I hope to see better in the future.
Chris Nicholson August 09, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Irresponsible journalism? Really? Come on. If these four perps were wearing Miramonte shirts and not behaving suspiciously, do you really think the cops would have been called?
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Richard -- We would suggest that you read a bit more closely next time. We responded to multiple public requests for information as well as photos of a high profile arrest in the Orinda city center as it was happening, determining that the carload of people stopped in the BevMo parking lot may have been linked to at least one and possibly more residential burglaries in our area. We stated this clearly from the outset. As it happened, Patch was unable to secure an official version of events from Orinda police until many hours AFTER the incident, with that information ultimately bearing out our own. The story was updated with the official police account, not rewritten. "Irresponsible journalism" has become something of a buzzword for people who, for whatever reason, decide that coverage is counter to their own beliefs and view. Use it as you wish. But we covered this story as it happened and informed a great many residents of a high profile incident in their city they probably would not have learned anything about until much later in the day -- if it all. We will continue with that approach. Thanks for reading.
Richard Ford August 09, 2012 at 09:28 PM
JD -- point taken. I do want to point out that in the original article you stated police knew three things: the people were driving a Mitsubishi, they were seen knocking on doors, and they were black. The replaced article above adds additional detail such as the car color and the fact they are juveniles, but now suddenly eliminates their race. Coincidence?
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Richard -- We include descriptions of race in all breaking news situations where individuals are being sought and that information is helpful in keeping the public informed and safe. Calls and photographs from neighbors provided us with a description of the suspects and we used it. I had/have no idea of what the police are "thinking." Again, the article was not "replaced," it was updated with an official version of events which -- because we don't wear a badge -- we were not privy to when this was breaking and which we thought essential in answering the questions of the dozens of residents who contacted us about the incident. That's SOP. If race was not mentioned it was because the police did not mention it in their statement to us. I'm sensing a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario emerging with you here. Suffice to say we would not have played this any other way.
Chris Nicholson August 09, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I don't think it was a coincidence. JD often omits physical descriptions of alleged crooks. I suspect that once the perps with positively ID'ed and known to be juveniles, the mentioning of race seemed more prejudicial than helpful. I would have preferred that the physical description were retained. I suspect these four will be on the street again shortly....
Bailey Lee August 09, 2012 at 09:53 PM
In California and Wonderland, the truth is condemned as misleading.
wow August 09, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Richard the bottom line is you yourself are bringing in the race card. You automatically jumped to the conclusion that the Orinda police stoped this car because they were black. I think if anyone is being race bias it is you yourself. It is sad that in 2012 people still look at color and I believe it is people like you who do more damage then good.
Regular Guy August 10, 2012 at 01:02 AM
In the rare circumstance that I am curious about the unstated race or ethnicity of a person described in an unflattering press article, I infer that the person is a minority. That's the result of decades of politically correct writing and editing by the press. The press willingly reports ethnicity when it contradicts stereotypes but not when it confirms them. The ironic result is reinforcement of these same stereotypes. This works just like affirmative action. Give a college preference to some groups and pretty soon everyone presumes that all students from those groups are underqualified. You can't break a stereotype by artificially imposing its inverse. The only way to break a false stereotype is to let the facts prove it false. A true stereotype cannot be broken. It should be dealt with directly by teaching readers that individuals must be considered as individuals regardless of group membership. Unfortunately that philosophy is in direct conflict with affirmative action. J.D.'s stated policy of consistently deleting group identification after arrest is neutral to race and ethnicity. It's the most sensible solution I have seen to this dilemma. Street criminals come in all sizes, shapes, sexes, and colors.
John K. August 10, 2012 at 06:31 AM
JD- "We include descriptions of race in all breaking news situations where individuals are being sought and that information is helpful in keeping the public informed and safe". How is this applicable in this article? they were already stopped and arrested.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Actually, John, they hadn't been stopped when we received calls from neighbors describing the individuals involved. And we believe they were detained initially, pretty much as we were writing through the story, and later arrested after a in-field identification by one or more witnesses and a search of the car... which happened after we received pictures of the felony car stop.
Richard Ford August 10, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The Patch receives calls when burglaries are in progress?
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Yes, the Patch does. Got several yesterday on another incident under the St. Stephens overpass that we could not chase down. Get them all the time.
Eastofthehills August 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
small town; with lots of stay at home people. I think the patch got the dead car thief thing a year or two ago as the chase was in progress starting
John K. August 11, 2012 at 12:15 AM
J.D.- So then your original story was written prior to the stop and arrest and didn't include the above photo(s)?
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 11, 2012 at 02:47 AM
John K -- Our story had been written and was posted across our Facebook and LamoPatch site when the photos of the stop reached us and were added, along with statements given to us by people who saw the stop and took pictures. Why?
Steve August 11, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Now that's funny!
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 11, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Correct, EoH... and as it happened we were also able to develop a suspect's name in that case -- which was supplied to police at the time.
Susan August 13, 2012 at 02:23 AM
My family and I happened to be at the stoplight (across from Wells Fargo) in the left lane. When the light turned green, a white car sped around us (on our left) & cut back in. There happened to be a police car right at the corner of Moraga Way, which quickly directed them into the Bev Mo parking lot. At first, I thought "finally, there is a cop around to catch a reckless, crazy driver!" We were certainly taken aback when we saw the police draw their guns & realized these guys were ready to side swipe our car in order to get away. Just happy it turned out to be a peaceful arrest.
Thomas August 29, 2012 at 03:12 PM
J.D., I for one would like to thank you for all your efforts. The patch is the FIRST place my wife and I turn for news on burglaries since they have happened to at least 4 of our neighbors in the past few years. Keep up the good work!
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Thomas -- we are most grateful for your kind words and for your loyalty to us. Thanks very much for writing. Sorry about the neighbors, though. Wish it didn't happen at all.


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