DA declines to file charges for burglary suspects 

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita.
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The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against a pair of burglary suspects after a monthslong investigation, a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station detective confirmed Thursday. 

Court records detailed how patrol deputies first learned of a June 27 burglary at Seeda Thai Spa on Lyons Avenue.  

Relative high-quality security footage shows a suspect deliberately entering the salon as quietly as possible so as not to jingle bells placed inside the front door, according to the lead investigator in a phone interview Thursday.  

The suspect enters a room about halfway down the spa’s hallway and then appears to hide in a room to conceal his presence before entering the employees’ break room without permission and is seen on camera leaving with the victim’s purse in tow, according to a warrant obtained by detectives.  

SCV Sheriff’s Station Detective Cristina Ricci was able to track down the owner of the car using security footage from outside the business. 

After identifying the car’s owner as the burglary suspect based on the evidence from the scene, she obtained a Ramey warrant, or permission from a judge to put someone in police custody before formal charges are filed. Ricci said she also was contacted by an Orange County detective who identified the same vehicle and driver as part of her investigation. 

The Orange County investigator was not immediately available Thursday.  

After L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies in South Los Angeles arrested the car’s registered owner while he was driving the car, the 22-year-old suspect agreed to speak with the detective. He was found to be in possession of an unregistered firearm when deputies picked him up, she added.  

The suspect admitted to owning the car but adamantly denied being at the scene of the theft, according to a court document that discussed his interview. 

The detective then held up a photo of a man the suspect admitted looked like him, but said it wasn’t him. He also said he rented his car out to a man in June whom he at first refused to identify. 

Ultimately, the vehicle owner gave deputies information that led them to find the man pictured, a 28-year-old Lancaster man who was wearing the same pants in a social media post seen in the surveillance footage outside the Newhall spa, Ricci wrote in court documents, which included pictures. He was on probation and had an extensive rap sheet, according to officials. 

Using facial recognition software, department officials confirmed the face matched a documented member of a South L.A. gang, according to court documents. 

While detectives have large case volumes due to staffing challenges, Ricci said she thought the case was important because the evidence indicated there might be a serial pattern.   

“I focused so much on this case because when we ran the license plate utilizing license plate readers, they came up everywhere. Within a weekend, they’ll hit five different counties,” she said Thursday. “I could tell that they’re driving (around) looking for criminal opportunities.”  

Prosecutors said they would be unable to establish the burden of proof for trial, according to Ricci, citing her mistaken identification of the registered vehicle’s owner as the suspect who entered the business — which was made prior to speaking with the suspect. 

A spokeswoman for the DA’s office shared the worksheet and indicated there was only one suspect under consideration and that there was no case-evaluation worksheet for the owner of the vehicle. 

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