When Jerry Pike's Lodi home was burglarized a couple weeks ago, he became yet another of many such recent victims.
The culprits had struck during the day, when many people are off at work, and made off with such things as jewelry and a computer. Pike had a feeling he would never get his belongings back, but he fought back the only way he knew: He made fliers and passed them out to all his neighbors, urging them to keep an eye out and prevent more people from becoming victims.
It paid off Thursday, when a neighbor saw four young men walking near Cochran and Lower Sacramento roads. She'd seen Pike's fliers and thought the young men seemed out of place — the only people out during the day are retirees who walk their dogs, she said Friday.
So Susie, who asked that her last name not be used for security concerns, because her husband works in law enforcement, called police. Officers arrived and contacted the young men.
In the process, Detective Eric Bradley recognized one of the men as someone he'd overheard talking on a phone about selling jewelry as the detective ate lunch in a Downtown restaurant. He found the jewelry that had been sold to a local store, connected it to a Kristmont Street burglary, and arrested three of the four young men.
"We had all kinds of suspicious activity going on in my neighborhood, but nobody ever reported it until now," Pike said.
Police say they want calls about suspicious activity, in an effort to bust the burglars. In two months, 62 homes were burglarized.
In the week ending Friday, eight more burglary reports were made, according to Lt. Chris Piombo. He noted that of those, only one was committed since Tuesday, when detectives and patrol officers began focusing on the problem. That burglary was the Kristmont Street home, which police believe was solved Thursday.
Whether any of Pike's belongings will ever be found isn't known. He has a good homeowner's insurance policy with a low deductible, but that won't replace the sentimental value of his wife's jewelry, or the data he hadn't yet backed up on his computer.
Police got a search warrant and Bradley said they found dozens of pieces of jewelry, which he suspects were also stolen. They arrested 20-year-old Phillip Peraza, along with two juveniles, and continued the investigation Friday.
In an effort to return the items to the victims, police will show the jewelry from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the police station's community room, once viewers show proof that they previously filed a burglary report listing the jewelry on it.
Peraza remains in the Lodi jail, where he is being held on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property, along and a count of committing a crime while out of custody pending another case.
In the previous case, Peraza pleaded no contest on Nov. 6 to felony charges of possessing stolen property and possessing drugs while armed with a loaded firearm, according to Sacramento County court records.
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 180 days of work furlough, court records show, and was scheduled to turn himself in at the Sacramento jail later this year.
Meanwhile, police continue to ask residents to call them if they see suspicious activity. Susie had already programmed the Lodi police dispatch number — 333-6727 — into her cell phone, so she called them and described the young men, updating a dispatcher on the direction they were heading.
On Friday morning, another such call resulted in the arrest of a 19-year-old who was seen walking in and out of Alicante Drive driveways with another young man.
Cpl. Roger Butterfield arrived at the scene as one man fled on foot. He grabbed the other man, later identified as Patric Peters, of Isleton, but the other one got away.
How to view found jewelryLodi police believe they found a large amount of stolen jewelry and are trying to connect it with burglary victims.
The jewelry will be available for viewing Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Lodi Police Department's community room, 315 W. Elm St.
Those who want to view the jewelry should bring a police case number in which they are listed as a victim. If victims do not have a case number, they can get it at the adjacent records department, which closes at 4 p.m.
Peters was arrested on suspicion of prowling and police had nothing to connect him to burglaries, though Butterfield said he was suspicious of Peters' story: The teenager allegedly told Butterfield that he'd just met the other man, who was in a rival gang and wanted to fight him, so they were walking into backyards to find a fighting location out of the public eye.
Earlier Friday, Detective Mike Manetti was working undercover surveillance as part of an effort to catch burglars and recent armed robberies at gas stations. Manetti saw a truck pull up, soon learned that it had been reported stolen, and arrested the driver, said Lt. Chris Piombo.
Susie, the observant neighbor, said she hopes recent arrests will solve some of the burglaries and reunite victims and property, but she also wonders if any convicted suspects would actually receive real jail time. Meanwhile, Pike is beefing up security at his house and encouraging neighbors to keep a close eye on one another's homes.
"It's not livable lovable Lodi like it used to be," Susie said.