Prowlers, arsonist arrested


Courtesy of the Madera Police Department

Patrick Behan, 29, was arrested on charges of arson, after being seen in the act, reportedly confessing and being connected to setting two other recent vegetation fires in the Fresno riverbed, near Raymond Road and Laguna Way. Behan is homeless and reportedly has a long history of arrests for theft, drugs, and alcohol impairment.

 

Community involvement has lead to at least two recent arrests for prowling, possession of stolen property and probation violations according to the Madera Police Department. Another man, Patrick Behan, 29, was arrested on charges of arson after being seen in the act, reportedly confessing, and being connected to setting two other recent vegetation fires in the Fresno riverbed, near Raymond Road and Laguna Way. Behan is homeless and reportedly has a long history of arrests for theft, drugs, and alcohol impairment.

Chief of Madera Police Dino Lawson credits residents watching out for each other. The new trends in home video surveillance recording and reporting systems with the clear video clips posted as they happen also greatly help police in identifying and locating the people alleged to have been prowling neighborhoods, checking for unlocked car doors, or breaking and entering into cars looking for anything of value to steal.

“These new video systems are just a great success story. Officers now have the Ring video alert notification apps on their phones and laptops and can be notified in real time, right when residents post the videos of people in their yards or areas. It’s definitely a force multiplier. Last night was a perfect example,” Lawson said.

The number of unknown people prowling in neighborhoods after dark has been on the rise, Lawson said, and property crimes have also been up significantly with the COVID-19 situation, and also the zero bail release policy at California jails implemented state wide. Suspects are still being arrested but for most crimes, rather than being detained until they post bail or appear in court they are released right after booking, as to not increase the spread of COVID-19 into crowded, close environments such as jails.

“Officer Ramirez received a notification from her Ring App, of a male attempting to open vehicle doors. A citizen had posted the video of the suspect and provided the street of Varbella Park. Officer Ramirez, along with additional officers, combed the area and located a male matching the description on the video,” Lawson said. “Erick Garcia (even) attempted to fool officers by grabbing a trash bin as if he was the homeowner and walking it out to the street. He was detained and property from multiple vehicle thefts were located. Also located in his possession were credit cards from a vehicle theft on May 12. That had been reported to officer Webb who was working on another case. That credit card was used at Walmart and officer Webb obtained video. After reviewing the video, Garcia was identified as the suspect utilizing the card, and even had on the shoes he was seen purchasing with the stolen credit card. That one tip from a resident helped us solve three different cases,” Lawson said.

Erick (Alejandro) Garcia, 29, was booked on multiple charges of theft, tampering, stolen property and resisting arrest. Records show a previous arrest for Garcia in March of 2020, also on charges of burglary.

“As for the arrest by Officer Ramirez,” Lawson said, “it shows how vital being fully connected to the community is — being able to get information in real time and be able act on it. We are finding that people more and more want to utilize technology to report the criminal activity through social media apps rather than notify law enforcement. Being able to capture a criminal in a non-traditional way is super cool. Then, to have a team effort to link the suspect to numerous crimes (helps detectives) and ensure that the suspect is off the streets and not adding to our rising property crime stats — it’s a huge win.”

Lawson still encouraged residents to call if they had concerns about what they were seeing in their neighborhoods — 911 for any emergency or the non emergency police dispatch number at 675-4220, which is answered by police dispatchers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“No call is too small. Please call (the Madera Police Department) and let us figure it out. We couldn’t do this without the community’s great support,” Lawson said.

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