San Diego

Good Samaritan Reveals Encounter With Suspected Thief in Escondido

“I changed my life around,” said 55-year-old Manny Cortez.

A Good Samaritan, who helped catch a serial burglar in Escondido, said he hopes the 18-year-old arrested uses the incident as a wake-up call.

Manny Cortez, 55, told NBC 7 he used to run away from the police, but turned his life around.

“I changed my life around at 48, you know, and he's young,” said Cortez. “He could change it now and he could be somebody."

Jalen Johnson, 18, was arrested by deputies Monday in connection with at least six burglaries across San Diego County.

Cortez said he discovered Johnson in his yard Monday morning.

"I was in the kitchen," Cortez said. "My dog started barking and I heard like a thump, like a thump, thump.”

He said he looked out of his window, saw Johnson and confronted him. At that point, Johnson fled into the condominiums next door.

Cortez said he followed Johnson through the complex and was able to detain him across the street until deputies arrived.

"I don’t like thieves, I just don’t," Cortez told NBC 7.

Deputies have been looking for Johnson since January. He has been linked to break-ins in Vista, another in Escondido and four in San Marcos.

Johnson was caught on surveillance camera, breaking into one home in San Marcos.

Detectives said Johnson is from Los Angeles. They don't know why he was targeting homes in the North County.

Johnson will be in court next week.

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