Claremont crime 2019: Highlights from a busy year for Claremont's police
While break-ins at Evey Canyon and Extra Space Storage seemed to go down, break-ins at local pharmacies skyrocketed. The police blotter gave Claremonters a window into the everyday crimes officers responded to—from drug arrests to drunken fights to stolen cars. Here are the COURIER’S most memorable police blotter entries of 2019.
A car theft victim got his wheels back after finding the car, and the thief, in a Claremont park. A Toyota Corolla was stolen on January 22 at 11 a.m. on the 400 block of Guilford Avenue after the keys were left in the car, Lt. Jason Walters said. Around 12:30 p.m., the victim saw the stolen car and the alleged thief, 34-year-old Andre Grant of Pomona, at Wheeler Park. The victim confronted Mr. Grant, who tried to leave but was caught by police and arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto. The car wasn’t damaged.
Nicholas Prado, 22, of Upland, was arrested for carrying a concealed dagger after telling police his name was “Antonio Valentine.” A witness called police on the night of February 8 after seeing a black sedan that “seemed suspicious.” When officers followed the car into Towne Park Circle in Pomona, one of the occupants, 38-year-old Jerry Pelfrey, tried to flee but was caught and arrested. The car was stolen, though police could not determine who was driving. Three passengers were arrested for different charges—Mr. Prado for carrying a concealed dagger, a 15-year-old from Upland and a 16-year-old from La Verne, both for possessing a stolen vehicle.
A Rancho Cucamonga man was arrested on drug charges after he was allegedly inside Vons for two hours on March 25. Police were called to the supermarket at Mills and Base Line around 8:30 p.m., and found 49-year-old Thomas Heide allegedly in possession of heroin and needles. He was taken to jail.
A Montclair man got his wish when he asked an officer to arrest him in front of the Claremont Police Department. On April 14 at 10:20 p.m., Randy Lewis, 36, flagged down a passing police car and “made a statement that he wanted to go to jail.” The officer noticed Mr. Lewis was under the influence of alcohol, and he was arrested for public intoxication and presumably walked to the CPD jail.
Police arrested a Pomona man following a bizarre battery incident at the Shell gas station on Indian Hill Boulevard. The victim was pumping gas at around 11 p.m. on May 25 when he says 23-year-old Henry Pineda walked across the street and punched him with a closed fist on the side of the head, Lt. Walters said. The victim told police he never had previous contact with Mr. Pineda, who was on parole and was wearing an ankle monitor. He was arrested for battery.
A Grand Terrace man almost pulled off the escape of the year after he slipped out of a police car while being arrested. When police contacted 34-year-old Thomas Schaffer on the 500 block of Foothill Boulevard on June 25, he gave a false name, had a warrant and was allegedly in possession of a hypodermic needle. He was handcuffed and placed in a squad car. As officers were searching his property, Mr. Schaffer crawled out of an open back window of the police car and ran away. He was later found at Sixth Street and Mills Avenue, still in handcuffs, and re-arrested.
A tree-hater in Claremont poured an unknown substance around the trunks of several citrus trees, causing them to die. The mass tree poisoning occurred July 26 or 27 on the 700 block of North Gettysburg Circle. The substance “smelled like a chemical used on vehicles,” according to the report. The trees were removed.
A would-be burglar probably didn’t anticipate the homeowner would point a gun at him. Michael Perez, 29, from Whittier, allegedly tried to break into a home on the 1500 block of Whittier Avenue through the back sliding glass door around 10:20 p.m. on August 8. The owner was home, and reportedly held Mr. Perez at gunpoint until police arrived. Mr. Perez was arrested on suspicion of burglary, and also for possession of meth and a parole violation.
Around 3 p.m. on September 6, a 13-year-old girl at El Roble Intermediate School, presumably on a dare, tried to open a door to a police cruiser. After that didn’t work, she climbed onto the hood of the car and jumped up and down. She was arrested on suspicion of vehicle tampering and taken to jail, where she was later released to her parents.
The driver of a silver Honda was pulled over at Mountain and Via Santa Catarina around 6:30 p.m. on October 29 after police determined the car had been stolen out of Pomona, Lt. Walters said. But the driver told police he had found his stolen car himself. He said he called Pomona police once he found the car, but it was still in the stolen car database. An ID check backed up his claim.
A driver collided with a small bear on November 9 at 10:45 p.m. near Base Line Road and Claremont Heights Drive, according to Sgt. Hector Tamayo. The bear fled the scene, but was found about a block away on Aquinas Avenue. The animal appeared to be injured, and officers from the Department of Fish and Wildlife tranquilized the bear and took it away. “It sounds like it wasn’t too serious.”
Police arrested Eric Rodriguez, 26, after he was caught driving a stolen 1995 Honda near Foothill and Towne on December 21. When officers pulled over Mr. Rodriguez around 2 p.m., he reportedly told police he bought the car from a stranger for $5. Officers didn’t buy his story, and he was arrested for stealing the car.