News - March 17, 2010

Portola Valley: Deputies' ploy nets burglary suspects in Westridge

by Dave Boyce

Alert observation followed by a little deception — it was all in a day's work for sheriff's deputies patrolling the Westridge neighborhood in Portola Valley late on the afternoon of Sunday, March 7.

Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office arrested South San Francisco residents Gary Wayne Ledbetter, 42, and Nathanial James Rohman, 33, on charges of burglary, conspiracy and possession of burglary tools, Lt. Ray Lunny told The Almanac. Both men are in the county jail.

The tale of their arrest began in the twilight just before 6 p.m. when a patrolling deputy passing through the 200 block of Golden Hills Drive noticed a parked green pickup truck, a truck matching a description from a suspicious-circumstances incident several days earlier.

Alone in the driver's seat was Mr. Ledbetter with a "real concentrated look on his face," Lt. Lunny said, quoting from the incident report.

Deputies questioned him and Mr. Ledbetter identified himself as a parolee and confirmed that he was, therefore, subject to random search and seizure, Lt. Lunny said.

Deputies searched the truck and found a bolt-cutter, wire cutters and a reciprocating saw, "all tools for entering and possibly removing things," Lt. Lunny said.

Mr. Ledbetter told deputies that he had an accomplice at a nearby construction site, Lt. Lunny said.

While deputies were interviewing Mr. Ledbetter, he received a call from Mr. Rohman on his cell phone, asking to be picked up. Mr. Ledbetter made the arrangements and gave permission to the deputies to drive his truck to the rendezvous point on Fawn Lane, Lt. Lunny said.

Mr. Ledbetter passed the time in the back seat of a patrol car.

When the truck arrived at Fawn Lane, Mr. Rohman started walking toward it, deputies said. The officers in the truck identified themselves and ordered Mr. Rohman to lie on the ground, but he turned, ran for about 20 feet, then stopped and gave up after seeing an approaching patrol car.

Mr. Rohman also had burglary tools in his possession but no stolen property, Lt. Lunny said, adding: "He may just have been on the move. They were in contact on their cell phones."

Five deputies and a sergeant participated in the arrest, Lt. Lunny said.

The men are also suspects in another construction site burglary in the 200 block of Westridge Drive.


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