2 men allegedly found with stolen property at Santa Cruz gas station used in fencing operation

Felipe Chavez (top left), Angel Guzman (top right)

SANTA CRUZ (KRON) — Santa Cruz police caught two employees at a gas station with a stolen iPad who were allegedly running a fencing operation from work, police spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said Thursday.

Forty-six-year-old Felipe Chavez, of San Jose, was arrested for allegedly receiving and possessing stolen property, according to police.

Angel Guzman, 19, of Watsonville, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of stolen property, according to police.The suspects are believed to be part of a larger operation

The suspects are believed to be part of a larger operation involving items taken from home and car break-ins in Santa Cruz and the San Jose area, police said.

A home burglary victim called police around 1:30 p.m. Friday to report that he used the “Find My iPhone” app to locate his stolen iPad at Mission Street and Walnut Avenue, police said.

A patrol officer was dispatched to meet with the victim and learned the app signaled the iPad was at a 76 gas station at 904 Mission St., according to police.

The officer told the victim to activate the iPad’s alarm while the officer was inside the station, police said.

The station manager, Chavez, and an employee, Guzman, spoke with the officer and while they were conversing heard the alarm go off, according to police.

The workers claimed they didn’t hear the alarm, but one of two iPads found in a bag next to them was sounding, police said.

Chavez told the officer that he found the bag in bushes near the station, according to police.

Additional officers were called to the scene and searched Chavez’s truck, where they found stolen property, including items that belonged to the victim who made the initial call, police said.

Officers found more stolen goods when they searched Guzman’s car, which was parked at the business, according to police.

A backroom in the station stored other suspected stolen property, including high-end bicycles and construction tools, police said.

The investigation prompted the station to close and detectives obtained a search warrant, according to police.

Chavez’s domestic partner owns the business and detectives searched their home on Flinthaven Drive in East San Jose, police said.

At the residence, they found 19 mid- to high-end bicycles, jewelry and electronics, according to police.

More than $10,000 in stolen items have been connected so far with past burglaries, police said.

Detectives suspect the property was traded for goods or resold at the station and later taken to Bay Area flea markets, according to police.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the police investigation unit at (831) 420-5820. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call the police tip line at (831) 420-5995 or visit http://www.santacruzpolice.com.

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