Crime Time: Is Tobias Funke the "Blue Note Bandit"?

It's the Weekly's weekly crime round-up--now with more blatant Arrested Development imagery.

Could Tobias Fünke be the "Blue Note Bandit" (Wednesday) or the man making "blown" offers (Thursday)?


Nice Racks! After pulling over a silver 2004 Acura TL four-door at Newport Boulevard and 23rd Street in Newport Beach just before 3:45 a.m. for a vehicle code violation, a police officer discovered a roof rack that fit the description of one stolen from a 2004 Volvo at Bolsa Street and 15th Street hours earlier. More reports soon poured in from people who'd had roof racks plucked off their rides. The occupants of the car originally pulled over--Ernest Rodriguez, 21; Joshua Daniel Alvarez, 22; David Arias, 19; and the action-figure-worthy-named Agustin Castrejon Bravo Jr., 18, all of Fontucky, er, Fontana--were all arrested on suspicion of grand theft and held in lieu of $20,000 bail each. Cops estimated each rack was worth about $300.


Now, That's a Knife As they were citing three men for being drunk and having marijuana on them in the parking lot of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point around 2 a.m., police discovered one man also had a knife on him. Because the church includes a school on the same property, construction worker Carlos Alcantar, 22, was arrested on suspicion of  possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department (left) and Tustin Police Department
"Blue Note Bandit" in action in Seal Beach (left) and Tustin. The latter robbery left him seeing red.
What's Blue and Red and Wanted All Over? A robber who got away with loot from a U.S. Bank in Aliso Viejo today is suspected of being the "Blue Note Bandit" who has also been linked to heists of Chase Bank in Costa Mesa on Dec. 1, California Bank and Trust in San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 30 and Wachovia Banks in Tustin and Seal Beach on Nov. 24 and Oct. 13 respectively. Immediately after the Tustin robbery, as Crime Time previously noted, a dye pack exploded, covering the street, flying cash and the Blue Note Bandit in red. He acquired his nickname from the Bank Robbery Apprehension Team, which is composed of the FBI and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, because he used blue paper for his demand note in the first robbery. His notes in all the robberies claim he has a gun. He is described as white, in his 30s, 5 feet 10 with a thin build, medium length, light brown hair and a tan complexion. Got info? Call (866) 847-6873.


Such Tools Following a rash of burglaries at woodworking businesses that started in October in east Anaheim, police detectives started putting such companies under surveillance. That paid dividends around 2:30 a.m. when two men were arrested in the 2700 block of East Miraloma Avenue, where police say they saw them emerging from a smashed glass plate door. Oh, and they were allegedly carrying woodworking tools . . . and loading them in their truck. Carlos Tapia Cruz, 26, of Garden Grove, and Leonardo Catalan, 22, were held on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen material. Officers says they have recovered a large number of stolen items, including power tools and flat screen televisions, and believe the suspects may be tied to at least three commercial burglaries in Orange.

Extra-Curricular Activity? A Redondo Union High School teacher arranged a meeting with a 16-year-old female student in his media arts classroom at 1:30 p.m., during sixth period when he didn't have a class. During that meeting, the girl alleges the much-older teacher did something naughty that police refused to specify, other than to say he did not touch the girl. Louis Jay Haddad, 50, of Huntington Beach, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct. While police investigate the evidence to verify the student's account and ensure she did not file a false report, Haddad has not been charged. The married father of two has worked at the school for eight years.

Maybe He Was Seeking a Book by Author Will U. Suckmydick? After a man in the media room at Huntington Beach Central Library allegedly asked a woman to perform oral sex on him, he was confronted by library employees and, as he tried to leave, a fight ensued. A security guard detained the man until police arrived around 4:30 p.m. Francis Gallo, 48, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in public.

Lowering the Boom A police officer pulled over a 1999 BMW near Ritz-Carlton Drive and Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point around 8:30 p.m. because it was missing its front license plate and bumper, the windows were tinted and it just looked suspicious. That wasn't the half of it because inside were what appeared to be bomb-making materials and a book explaining how to be a sniper, according to police. The bomb squad was called out and nothing explosive was found, but the car's occupants allegedly had bags of heroin and methamphetamine on them. Kelly Cleary, 24, and Eric Battersby, 25, were arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession.

Such Tools, Part II Sheriff's deputies received a call just after 11 p.m. from someone at a motel in the 34100 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point reporting that a marijuana dealer with a "backpack full of weed" and a "closet full of stolen tools" was staying there. He also had a female with him because, you know, guys with backpacks full of weed and closets full of stolen tools get all the chicks.


Courtesy of Orange Police Department
Richard Austin Baumgartner III
Here, There, Everywhere Police officers trying to pull over a 2001 Dodge Dakota truck that had been apparently driving recklessly in downtown Orange followed it to Anita Street off Chapman Avenue, where it dead-ends. The driver allegedly whipped the car around and zoomed toward the officers, who had exited their police car. One officer jumped out of the way to avoid getting hit, while the other fired several shots at the car. The driver, who was not struck, continued onto the southbound 57 freeway, then the south 5 freeway and finally the transition to the south 55 freeway, where he crashed into the center divider north of the McFadden Street exit in Tustin just before 12:20 a.m. As officers approached, the driver allegedly fled from the Dakota on foot, but he was quickly captured. Richard Austin Baumgartner III, 28, of Costa Mesa, was taken to a hospital for treatment of pain in his legs before he was booked into Orange County Jail on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon and felony evading.

Putting the "Drip" in IV Drip A 45-year-old woman left Mission Hospital in Dana Point just before 1 a.m. without checking out--and without removing the IV in her arm. A sheriff's deputy found her about 20 minutes later and returned the IV to its rightful medical center.

Alleged Son-Napping Foiled A mother met with who she believed were two private investigators today to arrange the kidnapping of her 7-year-old son, according to the Orange County District Attorney. She allegedly talked about obtaining passports for her boy, fleeing with him to Europe or the Middle East and a $10,000 payment for the kidnapping. But one of the people she was meeting with was really an undercover Newport Beach police officer, and Niveen Ismail, 43, of Newport Beach, was arrested on the spot. The DA later charged her with one felony count of solicitation to commit kidnapping. She was held on $1 million bail and, if convicted, could spend three years in state prison. Ismail lost parental rights in 2005 to her son, who now lives in Lake Forest with a foster family in the process of adopting him. The DA claims Ismail first contacted the P.I. in November and laid out the plan to kidnap the boy from the foster family and take him to Tijuana, Mexico, in exchange for the 10 grand. The P.I. instead contacted police and the trap was set.

Nigerian Sting 2.0 Jackie Reed was contacted by family members about an emergency email she sent the stated she was stuck in Nigeria and desperately needed $2,500 to return home. The deal was, Reed was not in Nigeria, she was home at Laguna Woods Village. She contacted sheriff's deputies, who called this another variation of the old Nigerian email scam. It's believed scamsters hacked into her account and emailed all her contacts after Reed responded to what she thought was an email from Yahoo! in October seeking her email address and password. Yahoo! reps say they never ask for such information in an email.

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