SANTA ROSA – You’ve got to hand it to Jose Luis Lara and Paige Curtis-Thompson for their ingenuity. Too bad their efforts could not have been used for the force of good.
Early this morning, Wednesday February 25, employees at the Santa Rosa Exchange Bank on 4th Street, who were in before 6 am, observed someone suspicious hanging around the night deposit box and ATM machine. They called Santa Rosa Police, and according to Sergeant Josh Ludtke, the responding officers quickly arrived and spotted a man in the area. As they approached the man, he began to casually walk away, and did not respond when told to stop.
Once the officer detained the man, they investigated the area, first finding a home-made implement stuck in the drop box, apparently designed to reach inside and pull deposits from deep inside the chamber. Also in the area was a woman in a car who had a two way radio, perhaps serving as the man’s not-too-successful look-out.
The car also contained some additional home-made tools of a similar design to fish out items from difficult places. There were other burglary tools as well, along with checks taken from previous successful operations, from at least two burglaries in other locations. The Santa Rosa Police Property Crimes Investigations detectives were called out to take over the investigation. They identified 15 similar burglaries that had taken place over the past four months in Sonoma County, and the pair are now considered prime suspects in those incidents.
Meanwhile, Jose Lara, 33, and Paige Thompson, 26, both area transients, were arrested for burglary, possession of burglar’s tools, and conspiracy. Lara was also charged with resisting arrest, and the Sheriff’s office has already tagged him with one burglary count for an ongoing investigation of theirs.
Prior to this incident, Paige Thompson had been arrested three times in the past year. On December 17 she was charged with petty theft and possession of drug paraphernalia, and on December 7 with being under the influence of a controlled substance and on a warrant for failure to appear in court. A year ago, on February 24 2014, she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, and a probation violation. Earlier records show several arrests for her over past four years on drug charges, petty and grand theft, and probation or parole violations.
The department asked that if anyone had any information to provide for this case, that they contact them at 707-543-3575.