Burglary suspects caught stealing from father of fallen veteran

A cloth knapsack from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors was used to carry items stolen from a father while he visited his son't grave.


By HOWARD BLUME | Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 25, 2017

Note: This article has been corrected.

Many have had the experience of reporting burglaries to police, and then finding the crime is never solved.

But on Saturday in Lakewood, Calif., deputies bagged two suspects caught literally holding the bag in an operation as efficient as an episode of “Dragnet.” In the process, they recovered important mementos belonging to the father of a fallen soldier.

Shortly after noon, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Peacock talked to a witness in Lakewood who had reported a burglary in progress. The witness described two men who’d entered an apartment through a window after removing a screen.

During the interview, Peacock saw two men exit the gate of the apartment complex, and the witness identified them as the burglars. Peacock “attempted to detain the two individuals,” according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department.

One suspect dropped a blue bag and ran toward Centralia Street. He was caught minutes later by Deputy Michael Perea.

The discarded bag “contained jewelry, cash, electronics, collectible coins and car keys,” the release said.

Deputies detained the second suspect at the scene.

The resident was away at Riverside National Cemetery, visiting the grave of his son, a U.S. Navy veteran killed in an accident five years ago while serving in the military. The man returned home and identified the recovered items.

The bag used to carry the items was a cloth knapsack provided to the family by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit support group for the families of fallen soldiers.

Officers arrested the suspects on suspicion of first-degree residential burglary. Franklin was released on $50,000 bail Sunday. Ortega was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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Correction: The cemetery in Riverside, Calif., is the Riverside National Cemetery.