Three burglary suspects were apprehended, caught almost red-handed, on May 25, in a Cardiff by the Sea neighborhood.
Just after 9:00 a.m., “Allison” was driving east on Birmingham Drive when she noticed a sheriff’s deputy appearing to be looking for someone at the Chevron station off I-5.
As she passed the station she noticed two black males running up the fence line of homes that back up to Birmingham Drive as if they were looking to jump a fence. She called 911, as the Poinsettia Heights neighborhood has been on high alert due to numerous daytime burglaries and car break-ins in the past month, as reported here on May 20.
By 9:15 a.m., 15 sheriff’s patrol cars, motorcycle officers, and a K-9 unit from the San Diego Police Department were combing the Cardiff neighborhood east of I-5. The sheriff’s helicopter was circling overhead, announcing to be on the lookout for two black males running through the neighborhood.
Deputies found the suspects’ empty car in front of a home on the 900 block of Emma Drive. Reportedly, the homeowner had just returned from a 20-minute trip to Home Depot and found the suspects in his home. While investigating the empty car, a deputy heard commotion coming from the backyard — it was the suspects jumping over the fence onto Birmingham Drive. The homeowner reported a loaded handgun was missing.
Two of the suspects were eventually captured, one at the end of Playa Rivera Drive and the other at the end of Emma Drive. A third suspect ran across Birmingham, up a hill, and into the back of a home on the 900 block of Robley Place. The helicopter’s fly-over announcement changed to, “We have you surrounded. The dogs will bite you.”
After the incident, the Robley Place homeowner, who said he was inside when the man broke through his back door, was unable to talk about the incident to this reporter. According to a deputy, the suspect dropped the stolen gun as he jumped the fence.
The suspects' car, a gray Ford Taurus (described in previous police reports as seen in the neighborhood in past burglaries) was searched; it appeared that some of the items in the car might have been jewelry from the May 20th burglary. (A sheriff’s detective told the victims of the May 20th Nolbey Street burglary that some of their documents taken had been found in La Mesa the previous day.)
Nearby, both Cardiff and Ada Harris Elementary schools were on lockdown during the one-and-a-half-hour pursuit. Prior to capture, CHP units were based on I-5, at the bottom of the sagebrush canyon that leads from the end of Playa Rivera Drive and empties out at the I-5 northbound lanes.
Reportedly, two more homes were hit after the May 20th burglary. “We’re confident we have the people we’ve been looking for that have caused these burglaries,” said one deputy.
However, after the May 20th incident, east-side Cardiff residents started connecting on a social media site nextdoor.com. The site allows residents in small neighborhoods to share posts. Within hours after the May 25 attempted burglary and accompanying commotion, 25 more residents had joined the site.
On the site, some residents were talking about additional possible suspects and to keep vigilant. Another homeowner in the 900 block of Nolbey Street, who was burglarized at the end of April, posted that his burglars were a white man and woman in a white car (as seen on his security video).
At 1:30 p.m., a sheriff’s press release identified the three arrested as Stephen Pittman, Earl Hart, and Demorie Stanley. Stanley was wanted on two outstanding felony warrants.