SAN RAFAEL, CA – On Sunday, 02/19/12, at 8:36 P.M., San Rafael Police officers responded to a call of suspicious male subject at the Whole Foods Market, 340 Third Street. It was believed that the suspicious male was related to a previous purse theft that occurred in the same store days prior. Diligent witnesses helped identify the suspicious person by obtaining a vehicle license plate as the suspicious person fled prior to police arrival.
After reviewing surveillance footage and speaking to additional witnesses, officers determined that the suspicious person was in fact the suspect of a purse theft that had occurred on 02/15/12. In that case, the suspect walked into the Whole Foods Store and stole a purse from a shopping cart.
Just after 9 P.M., SRPD was notified that Novato Police were also investigating a purse theft that had just occurred at a Safeway store. The suspect in that case was described similar to the suspect at Whole Foods in San Rafael. A further investigation into the suspect revealed he was wanted in Sonoma County on a misdemeanor warrant. SRPD officers alerted other police agencies including the Petaluma Police Department.
Shortly after midnight, Petaluma Police located the suspect in his vehicle at the Gas and Shop gas station in southern Sonoma County at Kastania Road and US 101. SRPD officers met with Petaluma Police officers and arrested the suspect, identified as Jason Ahtye Vasquez, a 30 year old Petaluma resident, for the Sonoma County warrant, burglary, possession of stolen property, and narcotics possession.
SRPD officers contacted Novato Police and provided them with the Velasquez’s information. Novato Police were able to identify Jason Velasquez as being responsible for two separate purse thefts in their jurisdiction which included the one that occurred at the Safeway at 9 P.M. Additionally, SRPD officers were able to determine that Velasquez was responsible for a purse theft in Lafayette and four other purse thefts that occurred in Mill Valley and Southern Marin County. SRPD is continuing to work with these agencies in resolving those cases.
Velasquez was booked at the Marin County Jail for the Sonoma County Warrant, burglary, possession of stolen property, and narcotics possession. Velasquez is currently being held at the Marin County Jail on $15,000 bail. SRPD is still reviewing additional cases to determine if Velasquez is responsible in those cases.
The Police Department reminds the public to be aware of their surroundings and always secure their personal property to avoid thefts.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call San Rafael Police at (415) 485-3000. Tips can also be made online at http://www.srpd.org/tips.