Orange County: Citizen Helps To Arrest Robbery Suspect

Anonymous caller sees suspect vehicle shown in TV news story

Photo Courtesy:  SAPD Heriberto Escalera Contreras

Photo Courtesy: SAPD
Heriberto Escalera Contreras

Staff Reports

Santa Ana – On Mon., June 15, at approximately 7:30 a.m., a woman entered a 7-Eleven convenience store located at 2242 S. Grand Ave.; her 10-year old daughter waited in the car.

A man parked his van next to the woman’s vehicle and was able to look down into her car and see a wallet in the center console.  The man exited his van, opened the woman’s car door, grabbed the wallet and got back into his van.

The 10-year old got out of her car and opened the man’s van door in an attempt to retrieve the stolen wallet.  The man attempted to close the door, and a struggle between the two ensued with the door opening and closing for about a minute’s time.  Eventually, the man handed the girl the wallet.

As the man was about to leave, the mother exited the store.  When the girl told her mother what had happened, the mother ran up to the suspect and told him she was calling the police.  The girl used her cell phone to photograph the van’s rear license plate as the suspect drove from the parking lot.

The child was not injured, and the wallet – containing cash – was retained by the victim.

On Thurs., June 18, at approximately 4:50 p.m., Officers responded to the Mobile Gas Station at Edinger and Main streets after an anonymous citizen called to report that the suspect vehicle that was shown on TV news of the robbery that occurred at the 7-Eleven on June 15 was currently parked in the gas station lot.  Officers located the subject in question – Heriberto Escalera Contreras, 36, of Santa Ana – in the vicinity and detained him without incident.

Contreras had the keys to the vehicle in his pocket and acknowledged that the van was his.  Officers arrested the subject on an unrelated warrant for Burglary and possession of Methamphetamine. The suspect was also found to have concealed narcotics on his person while being booked into the Santa Ana Jail Facility. Contreras was interviewed by Santa Ana Police Department Robbery Detectives, where he made statements placing him at the robbery scene. Contreras was positively identified by the victim as the suspect in the June 15 robbery.