Police handed back priceless mementos Wednesday to a grateful and tearful Otay Ranch resident after they were stolen by suspects who later led police on a high-speed pursuit.
Eric Deas thanked the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) and his community for helping to locate suspects who police say burglarized and vandalized his home on Cascade Place two weeks ago.
“I'm just overwhelmed that the fact that everyone came together, the community came together," Deas said. "I love my community, I love San Diego."
On Nov. 14, thieves broke into his home and poisoned his collection of tropical fish by pouring tequila in their tank. They took his children's PlayStation, important social security information, and passports.
Most hurtful to Deas, the suspects took priceless letters his mother had written to him before her passing at age 84.
Deas' hands shook as he accepted back those items from a CVPD officer Wednesday. As he read the words his mother left for him, Deas choked back tears — "For my son, with loving thoughts" and "I love you, son."
“And with her arthritic hand it looks like scribble," Deas said. "But she wanted to express her love to me, and this is probably the most cherished thing I have in the world right now.”
It was with the help of the community that police were able to arrest two people in connection with the burglary and a high-speed chase that ensued, CVPD officials said.
It started with Deas' surveillance video.
After turning the video over to CVPD, officers spotted a vehicle near Otay Ranch Mall that matched the description of one seen in the video.
When officers attempted to pull the vehicle over, the driver took off with three passengers inside, prompting a chase.
The vehicle was abandoned on Waterville Lake Road near Laguna Seca Loop before four suspects ran away, CVPD said.
The suspects broadcast the chase on social media, CVPD said.
It was the community that helped detectives identify some of the people in those social media posts.
Earlier this week, Jordan McLeroy, 18, and a 17-year-old suspect were arrested in connection with the burglary and chase.
Police are still searching for two other suspects. They believe the group of suspects may be tied to other crimes in South Bay.
But Deas believes CVPD will find them.
“Out of all the houses, you guys picked the wrong house,” Deas said. “And now you’re going to pay for it. And the Chula Vista Police Department is going to make sure you pay for it.”