It was late Sunday night, February 8, and the China Garden Restaurant in the Stony Plaza shopping center had been closed for over two hours. Stony Plaza is located on Stony Point Road near Highway 12 in west central Santa Rosa. Two young men forced open the door and went inside.
While they were inside, they must have tried to get all the cash out of the register. But the register was locked, and they could not pry it open. Having gone to all the trouble of breaking in, they must have decided that they should just take the whole register, and figure out how to open it later, when they had time and tools, and didn’t have to worry about being interrupted. (They may not have been aware that most businesses keep less than two hundred dollars in cash overnight, depositing the rest throughout the day. Or maybe that was enough for them.)
As the pair formulated their plan, it was determined that 18-year-old James Dean Peralta would carry the register out the door. But what the pair did not know is that a security guard patrolling the shopping center had already seen them breaking in, and notified Santa Rosa police.
According to the Santa Rosa Police, as the pair were leaving, the police cars were already arriving. The security guard observed them come out the door, and when the pair spotted the police, they immediately fled on foot. Peralta, however, was encumbered with the heavy register, and could not keep up with his partner in crime. He finally ditched the machine and ran for it, but he was soon captured by police as they established a perimeter and enlisted their K9 officers to help. The security guard confirmed that Peralta was the one he had seen leaving with the register.
The search continued, but the other young man got away. Police described him as a white male, 19 to 20 years old, wearing a green hoodie and light pants.
James Dean Peralta was booked at the Sonoma County Main Detention Center on charges of commercial burglary, with bail set at $10,000.