Porch-pirates who tried to ruin Hemet family’s Christmas nabbed in stolen vehicle – Children’s presents returned
HEMET, Calif., — A Hemet family had their Christmas saved after a mother’s plea for information about a woman seen stealing packages from her porch – packages that contained Christmas presents for her children – led to the swift arrest of the alleged porch-pirate and another person in the days leading up to Christmas.
The alleged suspects, both wanted felons from the nearby community of Winchester, were arrested after they were caught in a stolen pickup truck; the same truck the pair was captured leaving the scene of the theft in on the victim’s home’s doorbell surveillance camera.
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City of Hemet police officers and deputies from the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Station began a joint effort to retrieve the victim’s stolen packages on Wednesday, Dec. 22, after seeing a social media post shared by the victim, Gracie Superada.
In her post, the heart-broken mother explained that several packages containing Christmas presents for her children had been stolen off her front porch by a woman seen boldly walking up to her home, grabbing several recently delivered packages and then leaving the area in a white pickup truck.
A social media post asking for information about a pair of porch pirates captured on a Hemet family’s home surveillance camera led to the swift arrest of two wanted Winchester felons. Gracie Superada/RING images
Grace’s post included still-images of the suspect, including a clear shot of the woman’s face, as well as video obtained from her RING doorbell camera.
In their own social media post, Hemet PD’s Lieutenant Nate Miller explained that after seeing Gracie’s plea for help and information, HPD and local Sheriff’s investigators began working together to try and identify those responsible for the thefts.
After quickly developing leads on the suspected Grinches, at around 8:40 p.m. members of the Riverside County Region 3 Gang Task Force, which is staffed by members of the Hemet Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, spotted a white pickup truck matching the description of the one captured on video.
After stopping the truck in the area of S. San Jacinto and Commonwealth avenues in the neighboring city of San Jacinto, Task Force officers learned that the truck had been reported from the city of Moreno Valley.
Officials arrested the driver, 41-year-old Jose Rivas, and passenger, 36-year-old Tonia Wachelle DeLeon, according to Miller; who said that officers used a still image provided in Gracie’s social media post to identify DeLeon as the woman caught on video taking packages from the victim’s porch.
During their subsequent investigation, Task Force officers were able to locate the stolen packages containing the gifts intended for Gracie’s children and officers returned the gifts to the family later the same evening.
The stolen pick-up truck was also being returned to its rightful owner, the Lieutenant continued.
Hemet mom Gracie Superada was delighted to announce that several packages containing Christmas presents for her children had been recovered and returned to her after they were stolen from here home’s front porch just three days before Christmas. Riverside County Region 3 Gang Task Force photo
Rivas and DeLeon were later transported to the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning where Rivas was booked on suspicion of vehicle theft and possession of a stolen vehicle, as well as an outstanding felony warrant for a prior vehicle theft.
DeLeon was booked on suspicion of four counts of felony grand theft related to the Hemet package thefts. She was also booked on violation of her Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS), as well as two felony warrants related to multiple charges of fraud/false impersonation for monetary gain, possession of burglary tools, and felony theft and/or use of access cards.
Online jail records indicate both remain in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail or bond and both are scheduled to be arraigned at the Murrieta Southwest Justice Center on Dec. 30.
In a social media post after her children’s presents had been returned, Gracie enthusiastically shared news of the suspects’ apprehensions, saying, “We got our stuff back! Hemet PD came knocking on our door last night and brought back all the packages!!!”
“Thank you HPD and everyone here for being on the lookout!”, she continued; adding, “We really appreciate all the help!”
Click here to view RING surveillance footage of package thefts.
Contact the writer: [email protected]
Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.
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