Local News

Wednesday, Feb 08 2012 06:25 PM

Hondas targeted in Bakersfield College car thefts

BY JILL COWAN Californian staff writer jcowan@bakersfield.com

It's been a rough week for Bakersfield College's Honda community.

The famously reliable Japanese imports have been targeted in several incidents near the campus since Monday police said.

Two Hondas were stolen from campus lots on Monday and a third car was broken into, officials said.

Then, Wednesday, police arrested three people in connection with suspicious Honda-related activity near BC, a Bakersfield Police Department news release said, though none of the suspects have been linked to Monday's thefts.

The news release said a Bakersfield College Public Safety officer saw 46-year-old Frankie Lee Jones looking under the hood of a Honda parked on Mt. Vernon Avenue at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Jones walked away from the car, the news release said, and was detained shortly thereafter by two BC Public Safety officers.

Bakersfield police also responded to the scene.

Jones was arrested on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, possessing stolen property and possession of burglary tools, the release said. There were also outstanding arrest warrants for Jones on suspicion of robbery, possession of drugs for sale and failure to appear in court, according to the news release.

The Honda Jones had been "tampering with," the police release said, was found to be stolen.

Then, just after noon Wednesday, police said a BC student reported two suspicious people "prowling" a campus parking lot in a Honda Accord, "looking specifically at other Hondas."

When the driver failed to respond to an attempted traffic stop, Bakersfield Police officers pursued the car through to a quiet nearby neighborhood, the release said.

Bakersfield Police Sgt. Phil Clarke said the driver led officers to the 3600 block of Rampart Street, before two male teens "bailed out" of the car, which then "wound up on the lawn" of a nearby home, while the teens fled on foot.

In the car, Clarke said, were what appeared to be stolen stereos. The teens also had a "shaved key," which he said can be used to break into Hondas.

According to the news release, the car was later found to be stolen and its occupants were suspected of breaking into other cars on campus before they fled and they were connected to yet another stolen Honda.

The teens -- ages 16 and 17 -- were arrested near the 2900 block of Cardinal Avenue on suspicion of two counts of auto theft, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy and resisting arrest, police said.

There appeared to be little or no damage to the house, the Honda or the bushes into which it crashed.

Meanwhile at the college, students didn't seem particularly worked up about the burglaries.

Student Karen Sanchez, 20, said she'd heard about the thefts through a campus email, but she was neither worried nor surprised.

"We're on the east side," she said with a shrug.

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