By John Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 28, 1998

Suspects apprehended in vehicle break-in

University police nabbed three suspects and recovered a stolen handgun Thursday after quickly tracking the license plate number of a car seen speeding from a vehicle break-in two weeks ago.

The theft occurred after a juvenile probation officer parked his car near a campus-area restaurant at North Fremont and East Lowell Street Jan. 16. He exited the restaurant about 9 p.m. to find two people rummaging through his car, according to University of Arizona Police Department reports.

When the thieves saw the officer, they jumped into a turquoise car and took off, but not before snatching a flashlight, a ski jacket and the officer's .38-caliber handgun.

A witness got the license plate number of the Pontiac Grand Prix, which led detectives to the girlfriend of a 17-year-old boy, said Detective Cpl. Jose Sprigg, of the UAPD. The girlfriend admitted to driving the getaway car, Sprigg said.

The girl told police her boyfriend and his 16-year-old friend committed the burglary after spending much of the evening drinking alcohol, Sprigg said.

Detectives located the older boy's father, who directed investigators to his son's high school.

Sprigg said his major concern was getting the gun out of the kids' hands before something bad happened.

But the 17-year-old boy told police he and his friend fired the gun behind his house, then sold it to an acquaintance for $125, Sprigg said.

University police arrested the students at school and took them to the Pima County Juvenile Detention Center. Both were later released.

The 17-year-old boy was referred to juvenile authorities on charges of auto burglary and trafficking stolen property. The 16-year-old was referred on charges he assisted with the burglary.

Sprigg said most stolen guns are hard to track because they move through the black market and change hands quickly.

Police, however, were able to find Jeremy M. Ordonez, 21, of the 9100 Block of West George Street, who allegedly bought the gun from the boy.

Ordonez was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property.

"The important thing is the gun is off the streets and back with its rightful owner," Sprigg said.

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