San Diego

‘Dead or Alive': Resident Puts Up Wanted Posters to Catch Suspected Burglar

"By no means do we condone the vigilante justice that was on there," SDSO Sgt. Russell Ryan said of the wanted posters

"Dead or alive" was the message printed on wanted posters a Valley Center resident hung around town after his RV and shed were broken into last Friday.

About $2,800 worth of items were stolen from a home in the 28000 block of Valley Center Road on Feb. 16, including a mountain bike, an air compressor, a chainsaw and other work tools, San Diego Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) Sgt. Russell Ryan said.

The department had just begun working the case when the home's resident decided to take control of the situation himself. On Tuesday morning, the resident walked into the Valley Center substation and told deputies he had placed posters with the suspect’s image declaring him "wanted dead or alive" around Valley Center.

"By no means do we condone the vigilante justice that was on there," Sgt. Ryan told NBC 7.

SDSO asked him to take the posters down but the man said he was exercising his First Amendment right, Ryan said.

SDSO’s Valley Center substation clarified on Twitter that they were, in fact, looking for the suspect but did not want him dead.

"An enthusiastic burglary victim with great video evidence, generated his own wanted 'Dead or Alive' posters and posted them around town," the tweet read. "They have our name and phone # on them. He is in fact wanted, but alive please. Detectives have Id’d him and are working on an arrest."

The resident provided SDSO with video evidence of the burglary, Ryan said, which helped detectives identify the suspect as 23-year-old Valley Center resident Jose Martinez.

Martinez was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Vista Detention Facility on theft and burglary-related charges. He is believed to be connected to other thefts or burglaries in the area, Ryan said. 

Through their investigation, detectives were able to recover at least one of the resident's items, his mountain bike, and were working to recover the rest. 

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