Houman Fakhimi

LAPD Sergeant Busted for Burglary in San Bernardino County

A Los Angeles Police Department veteran of 18 years was arrested after being caught with merchandise stolen from an upscale residence there.

San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers predict this will be a headline-maker for months to come. The news media will likely be providing constant reports being that the suspect is a law enforcement officer allegedly involved in this San Bernardino burglary case.

As happens from time to time in theft-related cases, the police are investigating to see if they can link the sergeant to other burglaries in the area that have gone unsolved. It is important that a person's rights be defended at every level of the investigation to ensure a fair process.

Sometimes, police charge defendants with multiple burglaries that are not based on strong evidence, like DNA or fingerprints, but rather on "motive" or "similar styles" of the crime being committed, such as an area of town or type of tool used to pry open windows or doors. This shaky thinking offers little proof that a person was actually connected.

In the officer's case, he was caught breaking into a home on Tres Lagos Drive. After a woman returned from walking her dogs, she saw the man, screamed and reported that he was "pursuing" her as she ran away.

She then turned around and unloaded a can of pepper spray, a self-defense device designed to ward off attacking bears. The man ran away, got into his vehicle and drove away. Several blocks away, he crashed his car. When officers arrived, they found him disoriented and reeking of pepper spray.

The woman has told the news media that she has moved, fearing retribution since the officer was released on $125,000 bail. "I'm really, really scared," she said.

The man has not yet been charged by prosecutors since the investigation is ongoing, the Times reports. It's likely he will face a burglary charge and possibly other charges based on this case. If detectives can put together relevant evidence, he could face charges in connection with other outstanding burglaries as well.

According to the Times, deputies found cameras, camera equipment, jewelry and other goods in the man's vehicle that belonged to the woman. It appears he was caught red-handed, but proving he committed other burglaries could be a challenge.

Given the high-profile nature of the case, detectives may be inclined to spend extra time attempting to link open burglary cases on the man if they believe they have the proper evidence and cause. Sadly, the only property crimes that are typically solved are the ones where a person is found at the scene or nearby. There are likely thousands of open property theft crimes on the books because officers sometimes are forced to put older cases on the back-burner when new cases come in daily.

We are hopeful that detectives give the suspect, and any others in his situation, a fair investigative process in order to preserve his rights.