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Anaheim Leads Statewide Toyota Theft Bust

By Kevin Rice 

The Anaheim Burglary and Auto Theft task forces collaborated with police all throughout the state to apprehend the suspects involved with state-wide Toyota Tacoma thefts.

“There were many guilty parties involved in this case, ranging from dealerships to DMV employees,” said Lt. Steve Davis.

The offenders would break into the vehicles using keys issued by crooked dealership employees, police said. 
Once the offender had possession of the vehicle, he would relicense the car and create new serial numbers to evade police interference. At least eight Toyota vehicles were stolen in Anaheim. 

The Anaheim Burglary and Auto Theft task force placed the four suspects in custody after they tried to sell the stolen vehicles in San Jose, CA. 

“We identified the main players, thanks to tremendous Intelligence work, and conducted the surveillance necessary to make a confident arrest,” said Davis.

The suspects were believed to be shipping the car to Honduras from their contacts in San Jose. Since these arrests have been made, there have not been any Toyota thefts of this caliber in the state, according to Davis.

Detectives make quick arrest in killing

Anaheim homicide detectives arrested a man on suspicion of murder in the roadside killing of a Korean national within 24 hours of discovering the body, police said today.

Beong Kwun Cho, 51, of Cerritos, is accused of shooting Yeon Woo Lee, 50, in the head on Miraloma Avenue, near Kraemer Boulevard, after a street sweeper found Lee face down next to a parked 2007 Toyota Corolla. The car’s trunk was open, a tire was on the roadway and it appeared he was changing a flat tire.

“With little evidence at the scene, our homicide detectives figured out what had happened, arrested the suspect and located the handgun believed to be used in the killing,” said Sgt. Robert Dunn, the department’s spokesman. “And they did all that in less than a day.”

Cho had been in the U.S. for two months and living in motels. The motive is still unclear, but investigators say it involved a “personal and business dispute.”

Anaheim PD Continues to Makes News

Every other week, the Orange County Register publishes highlights from “Behind the Badge” on its website – and in the Anaheim Bulletin community newspaper.

Some recent headlines that have made the paper:

Talking about “unimaginable crimes” helps officers heal
Police say gangs, terrorism still a threat
A visit from the family of the police chief for whom the police station is named

Also, the newspaper reported on last week’s arrest of two burglars who attempted to flee into the dense brush near the Peralta Hills neighborhood.

To read that story, click here.

Suspect Allegedly Attempts to Assault Officer with Stolen Car

It was the kind of car stop they make training videos about.

Brian James

It started with a driver who forgot to turn on his headlights. 

By the time it was over, police say, an armed robbery suspect had tried to assault a police officer with a stolen car and had broken into three homes in an attempt to evade arrest.

The suspect, Brian Lee James, 32, of Temple City, is scheduled to be arraigned later this month on suspicion of 12 felonies, including robbery, burglary and street terrorism.

The action began to unfold a few weeks ago along Western Avenue.

An off-duty Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department motor officer spotted the Honda Element about 9:30 p.m., and spun around to make the stop.

“Somebody driving with their lights off at that hour can be a good indication of a drunk driver,” said Det. Mark Lillemoen. “But that wasn’t the case this time.”

Instead of pulling over, the driver allegedly tried to back the Honda into the deputy. The deputy was able to maneuver out of the way.

But the suspect sped away. 

The deputy radioed for help.

About the same time, Anaheim officers were responding to an armed robbery of a video store at Ball Road and Knott Avenue.

“Officers immediately connected the two incidents,” Lillemoen said.

But that wasn’t the end of it. 

Phones in Anaheim PD’s dispatch office began ringing again a few minutes later, this time with 911 calls reporting a man jumping fences and breaking into homes near Twila Reid Park.

Officers eventually arrested James – a third-strike candidate – in the backyard of one of the homes, and found evidence connecting him to the robbery.

Police say they are investigating whether James is connected to other crimes. Anybody with information is urged to call Lillemoen at (714)765-1959.

Cisko Takes Another Bite Out of Crime

One of Orange County’s most renowned crime-fighting canines took another bite out of crime this week.

Cisko and partner Brian Bonczkiewicz find another suspect... photo by Sgt. Rick Martinez

Thursday morning, Cisko and several Anaheim police officers responded to a burglary-in-progress in the 1000 block of S. Roadrunner Road.

The suspect had smashed a window to gain entry.

A woman, who was home at the time, briefly confronted the suspect – who also lives in the neighborhood – before leaving the house and calling 911.

Police arrived within minutes, and quickly established a perimeter to ensure the suspect couldn’t flee along the dense hillside near the home.

Enter Cisko, last year’s Anaheim Legion’s “Meritorious Canine,” and
partner Brian Bonczkiewicz.

He found the suspect hiding in the master bedroom.

“This was another great example of team work,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez. “We responded quickly, set up a perimeter and made a good arrest.”

Arrested on suspicion of burglary was Roscoe Cambridge, 28.

‘Close to Home’ Killing Emotional for New Sergeant

It was one of the most disturbing killings so far this decade.

Sgt. Rodriguez addresses the department at last week's promotion ceremony

An 84-year-old woman was raped, tortured and then killed by an alleged burglar she had never met.

“This case hit close to home,” says Anaheim Police Sgt. James A. Rodriguez, who was promoted last week after a successful run working homicide cases. “Bessie Whyman and her late husband lived down the street from where I grew up. It was an honor to have been a part of that case and to help put her killer behind bars.”

Rodriguez, a Katella High School graduate, says the Whymans were big supporters of his alma mater.

“I was there when Bessie was laid to rest, along with her family, friends and congregation,” he says. “I got to know her through friends and family and she was truly a great human being who never harmed anyone. It was a tragedy what happened to her, but I was happy to do what I could for her and her family.”

Her alleged killer, Anthony Darnell Wade, could face the death penalty if convicted.

“We do not get thanked very often in this line of work,” he said. “But when you solve a murder, the family of the victims are always appreciative and its nice to know we provided some closure for them.”

Rodriguez, 30, says always knew he wanted to be a police officer. He was a police explorer during high school.

“It has been a blast serving the community where I was raised,” he said.

He points to the city’s effort to curb gangs as an example of Anaheim’s progressive approach to law enforcement.

“For a long time, police departments around the country would try and solve the gang problem with a lot of arrests and only through suppression methods,” he says. “In Anaheim, we do not only approach the gang problem through suppression, but also through intervention and diversion. We have a collaborative effort with (other agencies) to accomplish our goals of combating gang violence.”

Up next for Rodriguez is training the next generation of police officers.

“I was lucky to have a few great supervisors over the years who did the same for me, and I am forever grateful,” he says.

Two Men Arrested in Resort-Area Car Burglary Cases

Two men suspected of being tied to a burglary ring responsible for more than 200 vehicle break-ins are behind bars, police said.

Cesar R. Vasquez, 31, and Jose Michael, Torres, 35, both of Anaheim, have been charged with three counts of burglary and possession of stolen property.

Sgt Rick Martinez said investigators believe they are tied to a ring that has hit 10-12 hotel parking lots in the Anaheim resort area. Thieves are targeting GPS devices, laptops and luggage left in plain view.

Martinez suggests that motorists hide anything that might tempt a would-be thief.

To read an Orange County Register story about the arrests, click here.