Crime Time: Is Tobias Funke the "Blue Note Bandit"?

It's the Weekly's weekly crime round-up--now with more blatant Arrested Development imagery.

Could Tobias Fünke be the "Blue Note Bandit" (Wednesday) or the man making "blown" offers (Thursday)?
Could Tobias Fünke be the "Blue Note Bandit" (Wednesday) or the man making "blown" offers (Thursday)?


Nice Racks! After pulling over a silver 2004 Acura TL four-door at Newport Boulevard and 23rd Street in Newport Beach just before 3:45 a.m. for a vehicle code violation, a police officer discovered a roof rack that fit the description of one stolen from a 2004 Volvo at Bolsa Street and 15th Street hours earlier. More reports soon poured in from people who'd had roof racks plucked off their rides. The occupants of the car originally pulled over--Ernest Rodriguez, 21; Joshua Daniel Alvarez, 22; David Arias, 19; and the action-figure-worthy-named Agustin Castrejon Bravo Jr., 18, all of Fontucky, er, Fontana--were all arrested on suspicion of grand theft and held in lieu of $20,000 bail each. Cops estimated each rack was worth about $300.


Now, That's a Knife As they were citing three men for being drunk and having marijuana on them in the parking lot of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point around 2 a.m., police discovered one man also had a knife on him. Because the church includes a school on the same property, construction worker Carlos Alcantar, 22, was arrested on suspicion of  possession of a weapon on school grounds.

"Blue Note Bandit" in action in Seal Beach (left) and Tustin. The latter robbery left him seeing red.
"Blue Note Bandit" in action in Seal Beach (left) and Tustin. The latter robbery left him seeing red.
Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department (left) and Tustin Police Department

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What's Blue and Red and Wanted All Over? A robber who got away with loot from a U.S. Bank in Aliso Viejo today is suspected of being the "Blue Note Bandit" who has also been linked to heists of Chase Bank in Costa Mesa on Dec. 1, California Bank and Trust in San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 30 and Wachovia Banks in Tustin and Seal Beach on Nov. 24 and Oct. 13 respectively. Immediately after the Tustin robbery, as Crime Time previously noted, a dye pack exploded, covering the street, flying cash and the Blue Note Bandit in red. He acquired his nickname from the Bank Robbery Apprehension Team, which is composed of the FBI and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, because he used blue paper for his demand note in the first robbery. His notes in all the robberies claim he has a gun. He is described as white, in his 30s, 5 feet 10 with a thin build, medium length, light brown hair and a tan complexion. Got info? Call (866) 847-6873.


Such Tools Following a rash of burglaries at woodworking businesses that started in October in east Anaheim, police detectives started putting such companies under surveillance. That paid dividends around 2:30 a.m. when two men were arrested in the 2700 block of East Miraloma Avenue, where police say they saw them emerging from a smashed glass plate door. Oh, and they were allegedly carrying woodworking tools . . . and loading them in their truck. Carlos Tapia Cruz, 26, of Garden Grove, and Leonardo Catalan, 22, were held on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen material. Officers says they have recovered a large number of stolen items, including power tools and flat screen televisions, and believe the suspects may be tied to at least three commercial burglaries in Orange.

Extra-Curricular Activity? A Redondo Union High School teacher arranged a meeting with a 16-year-old female student in his media arts classroom at 1:30 p.m., during sixth period when he didn't have a class. During that meeting, the girl alleges the much-older teacher did something naughty that police refused to specify, other than to say he did not touch the girl. Louis Jay Haddad, 50, of Huntington Beach, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct. While police investigate the evidence to verify the student's account and ensure she did not file a false report, Haddad has not been charged. The married father of two has worked at the school for eight years.

Maybe He Was Seeking a Book by Author Will U. Suckmydick? After a man in the media room at Huntington Beach Central Library allegedly asked a woman to perform oral sex on him, he was confronted by library employees and, as he tried to leave, a fight ensued. A security guard detained the man until police arrived around 4:30 p.m. Francis Gallo, 48, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in public.

Lowering the Boom A police officer pulled over a 1999 BMW near Ritz-Carlton Drive and Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point around 8:30 p.m. because it was missing its front license plate and bumper, the windows were tinted and it just looked suspicious. That wasn't the half of it because inside were what appeared to be bomb-making materials and a book explaining how to be a sniper, according to police. The bomb squad was called out and nothing explosive was found, but the car's occupants allegedly had bags of heroin and methamphetamine on them. Kelly Cleary, 24, and Eric Battersby, 25, were arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession.

Such Tools, Part II Sheriff's deputies received a call just after 11 p.m. from someone at a motel in the 34100 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point reporting that a marijuana dealer with a "backpack full of weed" and a "closet full of stolen tools" was staying there. He also had a female with him because, you know, guys with backpacks full of weed and closets full of stolen tools get all the chicks.


Here, There, Everywhere Police officers trying to pull over a 2001 Dodge Dakota truck that had been apparently driving recklessly in downtown Orange followed it to Anita Street off Chapman Avenue, where it dead-ends. The driver allegedly whipped the car around and zoomed toward the officers, who had exited their police car. One officer jumped out of the way to avoid getting hit, while the other fired several shots at the car. The driver, who was not struck, continued onto the southbound 57 freeway, then the south 5 freeway and finally the transition to the south 55 freeway, where he crashed into the center divider north of the McFadden Street exit in Tustin just before 12:20 a.m. As officers approached, the driver allegedly fled from the Dakota on foot, but he was quickly captured. Richard Austin Baumgartner III, 28, of Costa Mesa, was taken to a hospital for treatment of pain in his legs before he was booked into Orange County Jail on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon and felony evading.

Putting the "Drip" in IV Drip A 45-year-old woman left Mission Hospital in Dana Point just before 1 a.m. without checking out--and without removing the IV in her arm. A sheriff's deputy found her about 20 minutes later and returned the IV to its rightful medical center.

Alleged Son-Napping Foiled A mother met with who she believed were two private investigators today to arrange the kidnapping of her 7-year-old son, according to the Orange County District Attorney. She allegedly talked about obtaining passports for her boy, fleeing with him to Europe or the Middle East and a $10,000 payment for the kidnapping. But one of the people she was meeting with was really an undercover Newport Beach police officer, and Niveen Ismail, 43, of Newport Beach, was arrested on the spot. The DA later charged her with one felony count of solicitation to commit kidnapping. She was held on $1 million bail and, if convicted, could spend three years in state prison. Ismail lost parental rights in 2005 to her son, who now lives in Lake Forest with a foster family in the process of adopting him. The DA claims Ismail first contacted the P.I. in November and laid out the plan to kidnap the boy from the foster family and take him to Tijuana, Mexico, in exchange for the 10 grand. The P.I. instead contacted police and the trap was set.

Nigerian Sting 2.0 Jackie Reed was contacted by family members about an emergency email she sent the stated she was stuck in Nigeria and desperately needed $2,500 to return home. The deal was, Reed was not in Nigeria, she was home at Laguna Woods Village. She contacted sheriff's deputies, who called this another variation of the old Nigerian email scam. It's believed scamsters hacked into her account and emailed all her contacts after Reed responded to what she thought was an email from Yahoo! in October seeking her email address and password. Yahoo! reps say they never ask for such information in an email.



Toyota'd in the Crosswalk An off-duty Orange County firefighter was crossing South Coast Highway at Brooks Street in a marked crosswalk early this morning when a newer Toyota Prius or Corolla that was heading south hit him. He was knocked 50 feet along the highway, but the car just kept on trucking, making no attempt to stop and check on the human speed bump. The offending vehicle was last seen near Nyes Place, while the firefighter was last seen at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was treated for serious but not life-threatening head injuries. Police, who are now looking for a Prius or Corolla with noticeable front-end damage and possibly a broken windshield, ask anyone with info to call (949) 497-0701.


Bus Tussle Three men were waiting for a bus in the 100 block of South Main Street in Santa Ana around 5:15 a.m. when they were approached by three other men who did not want to share seats but rob them. During the robbery, one victim was stabbed several times. The robbers, described only as being in their early 20s, split. The stabbing victim was eventually taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening wounds.

Stung in the Lot To deter holiday-season thefts and robberies, Anaheim Police have plain-clothes officers patrol shopping center parking lots. An officer in the lot at Fry's Electronics, 3370 La Palma Ave., Anaheim, noticed a "suspicious" vehicle cruising with four men inside around 3:15 p.m. The vehicle was pulled over for a code violation, according to police, and it turned out the front passenger was on parole for burglary. When he was ordered to step outside to be searched, he tried to run off but was tackled by the officer. A pat down produced a loaded handgun, according to police, and a search of the car containing the other three men turned up a second loaded handgun in the glove box. Anthony Barnett, 23; Joe Harris, 21; Andre Clayton, 22; and Anthony Hill, 22, all of Moreno Valley, were arrested on suspicion of weapons possession and gang enhancements.

Shop 'Til You Get Popped A couple had just finished shopping at Party City, 3357 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, just before 7 p.m. when they noticed two men breaking into their Toyota Corolla. The man asked the pair what they were up to, which prompted one, by now inside the car, to whip out a cell phone as if it was a handgun and order the couple to stand back. The bandits grabbed personal belongings from the car before darting off on foot. After police arrived on the scene to help the couple, one shopper saw the men walking by in the distance. Officers followed them to a white van parked behind the nearby Trader Joe's, a chase ensued and when the van finally stopped, various passengers exited like circus clowns before hopping a fence. But the cops caught four unidentified adults, two juvies and some of the shoppers' stolen belongings.

Suspected of trying to pull off a San Juan Capistrano armed home invasion are (from left): Victor Esteban Alvarado, Eric McLaughlin, Zachari Todd Thompson and Robert Cande Rodriguez.
Suspected of trying to pull off a San Juan Capistrano armed home invasion are (from left): Victor Esteban Alvarado, Eric McLaughlin, Zachari Todd Thompson and Robert Cande Rodriguez.
Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department

Million-Dollar Home Invasion A couple was minding its own business inside their million-dollar home in a gated community in the 31600 block of Paseo Isabella in San Juan Capistrano around 9:30 p.m. when four men with guns walked in through the unlocked front door. They tied the residents up on the living room floor with duct tape and headed upstairs. The residents managed to break free from the tape and escape out the garage door. A 9-1-1 call was placed from a neighbor's home, sheriff's deputies quickly arrived and they discovered a car parked near the scene of the robbery with a man sitting inside. Later identified as Zachari Todd Thompson, 22, of Riverside, deputies said he fit the description of one of the robbers, and inside the car was sports memorabilia that had been taken from the home. As the search was on for the other three home invaders, deputies spotted another vehicle around 4:20 a.m. Monday near La Novia Avenue and San Juan Creek Road, less than a mile from the victimized home. Inside were Robert Cande Rodriquez, 23, and Victor Esteban Alvarado, 25, who, deputies said, matched the description of two of the robbers. Finally, about 8:20 a.m., deputies found who they believed was the fourth robber, Eric McLoughlin, trying to make a call from a pay phone at Rancho Viejo Road and Ortega Highway. The sheriff's working theory is the three men remained close to the robbery scene in an attempt to re-connect with one another before fleeing. But still missing are other stolen items and the four handguns used in the robbery.


Subprime Poachers? Three former executives of failed subprime lender New Century Financial of Irvine were charged with fraud today for allegedly misleading investors as the business collapsed in 2006, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Former chief executive and co-founder Brad Morrice, of Laguna Beach; former chief financial officer Patti Dodge, of Irvine; and former controller David Kenneally, of Rossmoor, are named in the complaint filed in federal court. All three face severe personal financial penalties, prohibitions against ever serving as officers or directors of publicly traded companies again and reimbursement of bonuses and other incentives, while additional civil penalties are being sought from Morrice and Dodge, according to the SEC complaint.

Fiery Car and ICE An 1994 Italian Cizeta V16 exotic car valued at more than $700,000 and that had been left at Family Classic Cars in San Juan Capistrano since a car show their Friday brought out a different kind of lookiloo this morning: officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They had a seizure warrant for the Cizeta, one of fewer than a dozen produced by automotive engineer Claudio Zampoli in a joint venture with music composer Giorgio Moroder. Zampoli, who resides in Orange County, violated U.S. customs and environmental laws when he brought the car into the country in 2001, according to ICE. Besides being out of compliance with American safety and environmental regulations, ICE alleges, the cherry ride originally sold for $600,000 but Zampoli's import agent stated on customs documents that it was only worth $125,000 when it was imported. Pfft, $125,000 . . . as if. Isn't that what they are getting for a Yugo with a cracked windshield these days?

Worse Than Homework A 15-yer-old boy was walking home from school near an apartment complex in the 3400 block of West Del Monte Drive in Anaheim around 1:30 p.m. when an attacker or attackers jumped the boy and stabbed him in the abdomen. He was later treated at UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was reported in stable condition. Cops had no further descriptions of the thugs, although they have concluded it was a gang-related crime.

Raider Nation A man handed a teller a note demanding cash and said "give me all the large bills" around 4:50 p.m. at Chase Bank, 5 Monarch Bay Plaza, Dana Point. Though no weapon was seen, he was given about $2,000 before he split. He was described as being in his 40s, 6 feet tall and wearing a black baseball cap backward and a Raiders sweatshirt. Oh, and he needed a shave.


Another Day, Another Gated Community, Another Home Invasion Time was, the mean streets of Santa Ana were the most unsafe place to be. This week, it appears to be glitzy gated communities. Newport Beach Police received an emergency cell phone call around 10:15 p.m. from the backyard of a home next to another multi-million pad at 7 Longboat, which is off Pelican Ridge in a gated Newport Coast neighborhood. The caller reported a home invasion by five armed men. Officers arrived in time to nab three men while the other two were on the lam as the Crime Time keyboard was being drooled over. Arrested were: Mickael Andre Hastings, 36, of Los Angeles; Antoine Bashiri Boyd, 31, of Los Angeles; and Peter Joseph Paturzo, 44, of Mission Viejo. A Mercedes Benz CLK 550 parked in the driveway caught fire and singed the same house before firefighters knocked the blaze down around 3 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. The Orange County Register informed readers that Daniel Sadek, a subprime mortgage lending king the paper interviewed at that home in 2007, still owns the house. September's Vanity Fair ranked Sadek No. 86 on a list of institutions and people most to blame for the nation's economic problems. The magazine called him "Predator Zero in the subprime-mortgage game." Sadek declared for bankruptcy in Nevada two months ago, reports the Register. Police have not yet said whether the home invasion was related to Sadek's financial woes.

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