A parolee dubbed the "Blue Bar Burglar" was arrested last week in connection with a string of home burglaries in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, police officials announced today.
Albert Hernandez Jr., 44, allegedly used a blue pry bar to gain entry to homes in burglaries dating back to at least December 2011. He was arrested on March 13 while allegedly in the process of burglarizing a home in San Bruno, according to police.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr called Hernandez a "professional burglar" who targeted homes empty during the daytime hours.
"When everyone else went to work, he went to work getting into people's homes," Suhr said.
In February, investigators identified Hernandez as the prime suspect in a Dec. 30 burglary in San Francisco, and in reviewing his criminal history, they noticed he was previously arrested in 2005 for a series of burglaries in the city's Sunset District, police said.
On the day of March 13, San Francisco police investigators saw Hernandez apparently casing houses for future burglaries, then followed him to San Bruno, where they caught him walking out of a home with his arms full of stolen property, police Cmdr. Mike Biel said.
The blue pry bar was also recovered, and subsequent search warrants for Hernandez's residences in Oakland and Daly City netted property possibly linking him to many other burglaries in San Francisco and along the Peninsula, Biel said.
Police have since photographed all of the stolen property they have recovered, which filled 22 brown paper shopping bags, police Inspector Thomas Maguire said.
The items are mostly smaller items like jewelry, purses, sunglasses, small electronic devices or "anything that was smaller in size that could typically fit in something he could carry out," Maguire said.
Photos of the items have been uploaded to www.flickr.com/photos/recoveredproperty, he said.
Anyone who recognizes their property should send an email to email@example.com that includes the agency with which a report was filed, the case number, the number of stolen items and a description of them. An investigator from the appropriate agency will then contact the victim, police said.
Police from several agencies along the Peninsula assisted San Francisco police in the investigation, according to Suhr, who called the arrest "a great case of regional cooperation of law enforcement."
Hernandez has only been charged in connection with the one San Bruno burglary, but police said they are developing evidence to connect him to the other cases.
Hernandez was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on March 15 to one count each of residential burglary, grand theft and battery on a peace officer, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
He remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail and will return to court on May 21 for his preliminary hearing, Guidotti said.