On January 2, 2014, two suspects stole a Glendale PD marked police vehicle from the OCSD Academy campus. In the early hours of January 3rd, a citizen on the SR-22 called 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity of a Glendale PD vehicle being driven erratically with lights and siren. The driver was not in uniform and seemed too young to be working undercover. They also noticed a civilian vehicle was following it. A partial license plate was relayed to 9-1-1.
Glendale PD was contacted and it was learned the only vehicle that would be in Orange County was one they had donated to the OCSD Academy. OCSD Deputies responded to the campus and discovered it had indeed been stolen, along with several vehicle parts from marked units in the parking lot. Security video footage showed a suspect scaling a fence into the lot, stealing vehicle parts and eventually the marked vehicle. Due to the cover of darkness, the suspect could not be identified.
The suspects abandoned the vehicle in the City of Garden Grove. It had been stripped of several pieces of equipment including the light bar, hubcaps, various interior red/blue law enforcement only lights, emergency flares, and a first aid kit. The suspects attempted to remove the front push bar but were unsuccessful. Prior to abandoning the vehicle, they took extreme measures to cover the interior with a substance, which prevented the collection of fingerprints.
Detective Haug learned of this incident and began investigating even before the case was officially assigned to him. Through his keen investigative skills, he located a subject attempting to sell the light bar on-line. The suspect removed the item from the website when the story of the theft was released but by then, Detective Haug learned the suspect lived in Palm Springs and had priors that included an arrest for impersonating a police officer.
Detective Haug headed up a team of Tustin PD detectives who responded to Palm Springs. Detective Haug made contact with the suspect who immediately revealed the location of the light bar. The suspect was arrested and transported to the station. During the interview, Detective Haug obtained a full confession, as well as additional information relating to the second suspect. Suspect one was booked into Orange County Jail for vehicle theft, several other theft related violations, and an outstanding felony warrant out of Los Angeles for grand theft.
Detective Haug continued with the investigation, and identified and located the second suspect. A search of this suspect’s residence revealed additional stolen property from the January 2nd theft. He was arrested and booked into Orange County Jail. Both suspects were active members of a “Crown Victoria” car club. The goal of the club members is to outfit their personal vehicles (purchased from police auctions) to look like police units. It is very conceivable these suspects may have used their vehicles to impersonate police officers and victimize the community!
Thanks to Detective Haug’s efforts, these two will not have that opportunity. Detective Haug has been selected as the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Officer of the Month award for the month of January 2014. Congratulations Detective Haug!