Charges filed against serial auto burglar caught through fingerprints
BART Police’s fingerprinting detective work has led to charges filed against a serial auto burglar who has repeatedly targeted BART parking lots. BART Police linked the suspect’s fingerprints to at least three cases of auto burglary reported at BART parking lots at Hayward, San Leandro, and Bay Fair stations in the last six months. A forensic specialist used by BART Police to process fingerprints helped to speed up the process of identifying the suspect.
This BART Police detective work led to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office filing charges against the suspect, Luis Carlos Deltoro, who was arrested by San Leandro Police on July 21, 2014, for auto burglary. San Leandro Police alerted BART Police of the arrest because they knew BART was investigating the same suspect. Deltoro is facing a court date this month.
BART Police is among a few law enforcement agencies to still dispatch a uniformed officer to the scene of an auto burglary. The officer meets with the victim, attempts to locate witnesses, and examines the crime scene for evidence which includes processing the burglarized vehicle for latent fingerprints. “With many city police departments understaffed and busy with other priorities, auto burglary is often a crime that doesn’t warrant a visit from a police officer,” said BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey. “Victims are forced to file a report online or in person at the agency. At BART, our officers receive specialized fingerprinting and forensic training to better serve our riders who experience car break-ins at BART parking lots.”
In the past, when fingerprints were recovered, they would be sent to a county crime lab. Because of the backlog of more serious cases that have a higher priority, getting results back using this process was not timely and slowed down the investigation. To help expedite the identification process, BART Police contracted the services of a forensic specialist during the latter half of 2013. Now, recovered fingerprints that have evidentiary value are submitted to the specialist. “BART Police is now able to process forensic evidence in a matter of weeks versus months,” said Chief Rainey. “A quick turnaround can significantly aid in the apprehension of burglary suspects and possibly even the successful recovery of stolen property.”
BART Police patrol all of BART’s parking lots, which include 47,000 spaces systemwide. Last quarter there were 271 incidents of auto burglary reported by BART passengers. Recent parking fee increases have helped secure funding in the FY 15 budget for additional parking lot enforcement and patrols.
Here are some steps riders can take to help prevent becoming a victim of auto burglary:
- Always lock your vehicle and ensure windows are rolled up.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t leave ANYTHING in your car, or if you do, hide it out of sight. The top stolen items from vehicles are: GPS devices; cellphones and chargers; money; stereos; documents, mail and checkbooks.
- Program the BART Police phone number 510-464-7000 into your phone and report any suspicious activities.
- Always call BART Police if you are a victim of a crime on BART property. You can also alert a Station Agent. The information you provide can help keep our system safe.