VENTURA COUNTY — When Oxnard resident Gabriel Garza was just 20 years old back in November of 2014 and burglarized a residence in the unincorporated area of Ventura County between the City of Ventura and the Ojai Valley, he probably thought he had outsmarted law enforcement and gotten away with it.
He had no reason to think otherwise, perhaps, as he was not even a suspect in the crime during nearly full two years of the ensuing investigation.
But the arm of the law is long, and detectives from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Ojai Station apparently did a very good job of processing the crime scene immediately following the burglary report. According to VCSD spokesman Det. Joe Mulrooney, that initial work “located latent fingerprints at the point of entry and possible DNA evidence inside the residence.”
That evidence was then painstakingly analyzed by lab technicians and was then “placed in the State’s automated fingerprint identification system known as AFIS.”
Some 18 months later, in March of 2016, a computerized match of the prints found at the crime scene was made to the identity of Garza, whose prints “had been recently entered into the database when he was fingerprinted during an unrelated arrest.”
With Garza identified, Ojai station detectives ultimately found Garza living in Oxnard. Upon contact with deputies on June 7th, “he was interviewed and confessed,” whereupon he was arrested and transported to Ventura County Jail where he was booked on a charge of residential burglary, with his bail set at $50,000.