December 16, 2014

Amazing Detective Work Leads to Arrest of Serial Tagger

It is time to get up on your feet....do "The Wave" and tip your cap to Detective Brian Warren.  His excellent work identified and tracked down this serial tagging suspect.  

Derek Murphy - 21 years old from Petaluma, CA

Brian and his team followed up on the tagging cases that were discovered on June 10, 2014.  The suspect vandalized property with the tag “BERG” or “GREB”.  His tags damaged city parks, walls, fences and two police vehicles parked at the city’s corporation yard for repairs. Here are a few photos:


During the investigation, Brian shared information with Northern California agencies seeking information on similar tags.   This information led to contact with a task force investigator from San Francisco Police Department who shared a possible lead.  Brian and his partners continued follow-up, which eventually led to working with investigators from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.  Through this collaboration, we were able to identify Mr. Murphy and a second suspect as responsible for the tagging here in Santa Cruz.  The identity of the second suspect is being withheld pending a warrant request.  We are working on locating him.

On December 15, 2014, a team of SCPD detectives served a search warrant at a home in Petaluma and a home in American Canyon.  Mr. Murphy was contacted at the Petaluma home and arrested.   During the searches, detectives seized a portfolio of taggings, sketch books, canvas art, photos, computers and digital cameras.  Images retrieved from these devices show multiple taggings on public and private property in several locations. The evidence painted the suspect into a corner, and into the back of our patrol car. 

Detectives believe our suspect may be responsible for vandalizing property with his tags throughout the west coast from Bakersfield to Seattle.  We are collaborating with those agencies to assist in their cases.  While driving to the search warrant locations from Santa Cruz,  SCPD detectives noticed numerous tags from our suspect along Bay Area freeways to include Highways 101, 880, and 37.


In addition to any criminal penalties, SCPD will be seeking restitution for the damaged property.  Mr. Murphy has a history of arrest in San Francisco that includes vandalism and resisting arrest. Mr. Murphy was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail for felony Vandalism charges. 

December 11, 2014

Storm Related Downed Tree and Rescue

Folks.....if you don't believe in Holiday Miracles....This story might change your mind. 

Our colleagues at the Fire Department deserve some pretty big kudos for their quick action on this one! 

This morning (December 11, 2014), at approximately 8:20 AM, emergency personnel including police, fire and paramedics responded to Gateway School at 126 Eucalyptus Ave on a report of a downed tree with a student trapped underneath.   The incident occurred as the Santa Cruz area was experiencing a significant weather storm with unusually high winds.

First Responders arriving at the scene found a large Cypress tree had snapped and fell onto the playground area.  The trunk of the tree was approx. 60-80 feet in length and approximately 2 feet in diameter. 


There were a number of children in the area waiting for the school day to begin.  The downed tree fell across a picnic table where students were congregating.  When the tree fell, it trapped an 11 year old male student underneath, pinning his arm and shoulder. 

Santa Cruz Fire Department crews acted quickly, using heavy equipment to stabilize the trunk of the tree.  Once stabilized, fire crews used chainsaws to cut the tree away from the trapped child.  The injured child was transported to Dominican Hospital.  Miraculously, the child’s injuries were not life threatening.  He is expected to be treated and released from the hospital.  

Another 11 year old female was also hit by branches when the tree fell.  She was treated at the scene for minor injuries and released to her parents. 

Gateway School officials collaborated in a seamless response with emergency personnel.  School officials closed the school for the remainder of the day and reunited all of the students with parents. 

It is an absolute miracle that these students did not sustain more serious injuries and that no other students were injured as well.  

December 10, 2014

Update on the Santa Cruz High School Threats Investigation




Here is the latest on the Santa Cruz High School threats case from November 18th. 

Our investigators continue to work a number of strategies and leads.  We had email contact with the person claiming to be the original e-mailer as late as last week.  Nothing new has come from these contacts.  The person continues to make promises of surrendering, or turning in the “real” person responsible for the original threat. 

Meanwhile, our detectives continue to work the forensic computer end of the information.  Additionally, we are collaborating with two other out-of-state police departments who are dealing with similar threats.  

We constantly assess the information and the threat level to the school.  We will immediately update the community if anything changes, or we get any new breaks in the case. We have continued to increase our presence around the school campuses with our patrol staff.  
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department Investigations Unit (831) 420-5820.  Anonymous tips can also be sent to the police department through our Tip Line (831) 420-5995, or from our Website; www.santacruzpolice.com .  Tipsters can also submit an anonymous tip via our smartphone app or from an SMS text.  Visit our Website for instructions.

The Storm is Coming....Are You Ready




It is nice to have rain coming our way.  According to the latest forecasts, we have a doozy of storm headed our way.  This means lots of rain with high winds and long hours for your emergency responders.

Since it has been awhile since we have been walloped by a storm like this, here are a few tips. 

Rule #1…Slow Down!!  Sudden or prolonged heavy rains can mean flooded roadways.  Visibility is reduced in rain, even with good windshield wipers.  If your windshield wipers are not doing the job, get them replaced before the storm hits.

Sudden hydroplaning can occur as well as lane-drifting from standing water or waters rushing across the roadway.  Don’t panic; don’t slam on the brakes and don’t over-steer.  Just lightly steer through while taking your foot off the accelerator.  Be aware that driving through large puddles can swamp the engine compartment causing belts to slip and a short-term loss of power steering. 

Watch for downed trees and/or utility lines.  If you see downed lines, stay in your car….I repeat, do not get out of your car.  Call 9-1-1 and get help on the way to assess the problem.

Rule #2….Be prepared for power outages.  Fuel up you cars, and/or generators have flashlights with good batteries and don’t leave candles burning unattended.

For useful information on power outages, check out this link from PG&E here: 

http://www.pge.com/en/safety/naturaldisaster/stormsoutagessafety/index.page 

If flooding starts to occur, you may find that you need sand bags.  The City will only distribute sandbags if an actual emergency is declared.  For info on that, check out our Public Works site here: 

http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/departments/public-works/emergency-storm-preparation/sandbag-distribution 

And for tips on how to fill and stack those sandbags, check out this info: 

http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/departments/public-works/emergency-storm-preparation/filing-stacking-and-placing-sandbags 

Hopefully there are more storms to fill our streams and reservoirs.  For now, batten down the hatches and stay safe. 

December 8, 2014

Weekend Roundup With 2 Cases of Interest



Your weekend roundup features two cases you might find interesting.  Here goes:

Case #1

This case happened around 2:00 AM early Sunday morning.  This case involves a bit of a car chase, between our suspect and victim.  In the end, a crash occurs right across the street from the police department entrance.

This all started when our victim was sitting is his car parked in the double-decker city lot at Church St and Cedar St.  At some point, our suspect arrives at his car and finds his cell phone is missing.  For reasons unknown, he believed or victim is the thief and decided to confront him.  The suspect confronts the victim, eventually punching him.  Our victim decides he has had enough of this and drives away.

This is where our suspect compound his already bad decisions…..he gives chase to the victim.   The victim realizes he is being followed by the suspect and the chase is on through town.  They drove through downtown and out along Mission Street before the victim calls 9-1-1to report he is being chased.

Our dispatcher instructs him to drive to the police department.  Or victim pulls into the front lot of the police department with the suspect still in pursuit.  The victim pulls through the front lot and back out onto the road.  Unfortunately, he is a little heavy on the accelerator and loses control of his car while pulling out onto Center Street.  This resulted in him colliding with a parked car, as our officers are arriving.

As we sort this out, we locate the suspect, who is adamant the victim took his cell phone. Guess what?…..no cell phone found with the victim.

What we did find is that our suspect (the accuser) was Driving Under the Influence.  Additionally, he had a suspended driver’s license.  Booked into jail for DUI, and Driving on a Suspended License, and violating his already existing Probation…. was

Jesus Gonzales Ortiz – 24 years old, Freedom, CA resident


Case #2

This case happened in the 100 block of Coloma Ave early Monday morning December 8th.  At about 3:00 AM our victim was asleep on his living room couch when down the hallway he hears noises inside the house.  Realizing it was not the night for St. Nick to be visiting, he looks into the mater.  Scurrying down the hallway and into his bedroom is our suspect who had let herself in through the front door.

Our victim finds the suspect gathering things from his home.  Our victim confronts the suspect, who begins to yell and carry on.  Our victim forces the suspect from the home, but not before she swipes one last Pop-Tart for road.  She then proceeds to pound on the windows of the home, yelling and cursing at the victim.  In the course of all this, the suspect managed to break one of the windows in the home.  Eventually, our suspect leaves and the victim calls 9-1-1.

When our intrepid officers arrive they begin to process things and find that the suspect dropped her jail booking paperwork in the home.  Seems our suspect had just been released from jail on a previous arrest by Watsonville PD just the day prior.

The suspect was identified as:

Jennie Roberts – 52 years old, Santa Cruz transient

Ms. Roberts was located by our officers a few minutes later in the 200 block of Grant Street.   Neighbors called when she was once again, pounding on doors and yelling at 3:00 AM.  Ms. Roberts was booked into jail (AGAIN!!), for Burglary, Vandalism, and a violation of her already existing Probation.

That’s it for your weekend roundup.  Stay safe through the Holiday Season! 

December 5, 2014

Thanks for Donations to Support SCPD K-9 Program



Two years ago the Santa Cruz Police Departments K9 Unit began a fundraising campaign for its Police K9 Unit.  The fundraising effort was based on the gracious donation to the K9 Unit by local Veterinarian, Dr. David Shuman of the Westside Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz. These tax deductible proceeds from the purchases go towards:
  • Funding of replacement K9′s
  • Supplemental funding of community education
  • Purchasing protective K9 equipment
  • Funding specialized K9 schools
  • Funding of medical expenses for retired K9’s
  • Defraying K9 burial or cremation costs
  • Health Insurance for current K9’s

Recently the Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary graciously donated $500.00 to the Santa Cruz Police K9 Fund.

With the holiday season around the corner, the Santa Cruz Police Department's K9 Unit wants to remind community members the $10.00 purchase of these stuffed toys are tax deductible and available for purchase at the front desk of the Santa Cruz Police Department, or you can request one from Lt. Warren Barry.  If there are any questions please feel free to contact Lt. Warren Barry (wbarry@cityofsantacruz.com).