View Full Version : Last winter's weapons thefts from CoCo County LE agencies

06-08-2009, 6:37 PM
Looks like the investigation is complete, all the weapons are accounted for, and the bad guys have been caught.

Who'd a thunk that jail phones would lead to several more arrests? (I.e., are BGs that stupid?)

How many years are these guys looking at in federal prison?
Contra Costa sheriff recovers stolen weapons
By Karl Fischer
West County Times
Posted: 06/08/2009 06:24:12 PM PDT
Updated: 06/08/2009 06:24:12 PM PDT

A trunkload of firearms stolen in the winter from Contra Costa County police agencies turned up last week in diverse corners of California, investigators reported Monday.

The recoveries in Stockton and San Andreas account for all weapons that went missing after a series of patrol-car burglaries in Martinez, Richmond and Clayton from December to February, Contra Costa sheriff's Capt. Daniel Terry said.

"We're just happy that we were able to recover these weapons before a tragedy occurred," Terry said. "We also wanted to make it crystal clear that if you're going to target a government agency in this way ... we will not rest."

County prosecutors charged 20-year-old Montalvin Manor resident Daniel Vess with the crimes in April, saying he fed an unhealthy fixation with guns and other martial accouterments by stealing automatic rifles, shotguns, ballistic vests and other gear and hoarding them in his dilapidated house on the 1200 block of Karen Road.

"I don't know who did it," Vess claimed during a jailhouse interview with the Times on April 23. "All I know about it is what I saw on the news."

He now faces a federal gun charge before Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil in Oakland's District Court. So does a co-defendant, Kao Kweng Saephan, according to an order sealing Saephan's court documents.

Vess's attorney did not return a phone call.

Pinole police arrested Vess on suspicion of an unrelated crime in March. Sheriff's detectives found evidence linking him to the weapon thefts soon after.

They accuse Vess of using pry bars and other burglary tools to open patrol cars parked in fenced lots at the CHP's Martinez station and sheriff's stations in Martinez and Richmond, as well as lockers at a sheriff's training facility in Clayton.

Search warrants at Vess's home near Pinole and other nearby locations yielded some of the gear in April, including helmets, night-vision goggles and an AR-15 rifle stolen from one of the sheriff's vehicles, a shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle.

Federal charging documents show that Vess and an unidentified friend, whom authorities say was Saephan, spoke over the telephone while Vess waited at Martinez Detention Facility.

"I need a favor, and I need it like soon. The detectives came to ... when I was in jail, they came here and talked to me about the things," Vess said during the April 6 phone call, according to the complaint."

During an April 14 phone call to a different friend, Vess also threatened to "blow their place up" if the Sheriff's Office sold his impounded pickup. "Put it this way," he added, "if they sell my truck, the county, the whole county's going to get busy."

Detectives recovered some of the stolen property from Saephan, and arrested him May 28 in connection with the case. FBI agents and sheriff's detectives traced the other missing weapons through many hands, Terry said, before several settled in the Stockton home of 22-year-old Brandon Buchanan.

"We believe he knew," Terry said, when asked if Buchanan knew the weapons were stolen, adding that he expected Buchanan would face charges.

Search warrants Thursday at Buchanan's home and at an address in San Andreas yielded three more AR-15s -- one each from the CHP and Sheriff's Office, and a third of undetermined ownership. Investigators also found two shotguns reported stolen from the sheriff.

Detectives believe another AR-15 stolen from the sheriff was stripped for parts, Terry said. Saephan and Vess are both in federal custody in Oakland, authorities said.

06-08-2009, 6:49 PM
Right on

06-08-2009, 6:59 PM
I have seen detectives do some amazing investigations and patrol officers come up with some pretty big leads just doing their job. Good for them.

06-09-2009, 10:18 AM

7222 Hawker
06-11-2009, 3:04 PM
Jailers are your best friends when they have the keys to the phone booth!

06-11-2009, 3:07 PM
Jailers are your best friends when they have the keys to the phone booth!

And liquid soap!

06-11-2009, 3:10 PM
That's very good news

Unfortunately in a justice system that gives murders short sentences I suspect these crooks will be out in a couple years