San Leandro police arrested two men on suspicious of stealing iPads and then jumping into a popular Oakland, California, recreational pool - in only their boxers - to try to avoid capture.
But residents nearby and swimmers all thought the scene was pretty odd, and helped lead police to their arrest.
“It’s very, very rare,” Lt. Robert McManus said. “It’s the first of its kind with somebody stripping down into their boxing shorts trying to blend in the crowd in a swimming pool. They were the only two adult males in the crowd. The rest were teenagers.”
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Detectives now believe that the men are responsible for similar thefts throughout the East Bay, including one at a San Leandro Radio Shack store on Monday afternoon, McManus said. He did not identify them or release their photos to allow other Bay Area agencies to investigate their cases.
On Wednesday about 1:30 p.m., a plain clothes detective was in the parking lot at the Westgate Shopping Center on Davis Street when he saw a white Cadillac El Dorado driving through the parking lot with three men inside, who appeared to be acting suspiciously.
McManus said the detective watched as the Cadillac, registered to an address on the Peninsula, backed into a parking stall and stopped. The driver and front passenger got out of the car and walked towards the Verizon store, out of the detective’s view, leaving the third passenger in the car.
Minutes later, the detective saw the driver and passenger sprinting back to the Cadillac as they were being chased by a Verizon employee, police said. They got into the car and fled through the parking lot, smashing into an Enterprise box truck, before driving over cement medians.
The detective radioed to other officers and began to follow the Cadillac as it sped out of the parking lot, running through two red lights heading north on Interstate 880 at Davis Street, McManus said. More police arrived. Eventually they found the empty Cadillac on Clara Street, near Edes Avenue in Oakland, a few blocks north of 98th Avenue.
Neighbors told police they saw the suspects running toward the Brookfield Recreation Center in the 9100 block of Edes Ave. Others directed the officers into the building, which had teens and seniors inside. There, they found the men had tried to pose as swimmers: They took off their clothes and slipped into the pool wearing only boxer shorts.
The detectives recognized the two men from surveillance footage from a similar burglary that occurred at the Radio Shack store located at 1359 Washington Ave. on Monday afternoon, where more high-end electronic items were stolen, police said.
Police searched the area and found the stolen iPads, iPhones believed to have been stolen in other thefts, the keys to the Cadillac and some of the clothing worn by the men, underneath a parked car, near the recreation center.
Police have arrested both men on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property, and other related crimes. The third man, who remained in the car during the theft, fled and has not been found, McManus said.
The pair are expected to appear be arraigned on Tuesday afternoon.