Over the last month, the campus has experienced a large increase in the number of bicycle and backpack thefts. The UC Irvine Police Department, after reviewing surveillance records, suspected Antonio Magana of being the perpetrator. On Oct. 28, the UCIPD and UCI Bookstore security caught Magana near the Administration Building at 5:13 p.m. while he was attempting to flee after stealing another backpack from the UCI Bookstore.
Magana is 25 years old and has had various residences around Orange County.
Last week, a large number of students reported having their backpacks stolen at the UCI Bookstore and Brandywine Commons. UCIPD Detective Richard Worcester and UCI Bookstore Manager of Loss Prevention Richard Ziegler met on Oct. 27 and confirmed Magana as the suspect after viewing a surveillance videotape which showed Magana stealing backpacks.
Magana has a habit of striking in the same area during a short period of time. The UCIPD was eventually able to catch onto his pattern.
‘When [Magana] hits one day, he frequently hits several days in a row,’ Worcester said.
On Oct. 28, the UCIPD and UCI Bookstore employees were on the lookout for Magana. When Magana entered the bookstore after 5 p.m. to steal another backpack, UCIPD was alerted and apprehended Magana before he could ride away on his bicycle.
‘Mr. Ziegler and other security agents pursued the suspect with a stolen backpack, just as UCI police officers arrived,’ Worcester said. ‘[The] UCIPD and other patrol officers apprehended Magana in possession of a stolen backpack.’
Worcester was amazed at how the plan to catch Magana worked.
‘The timing just worked outstanding,’ Worcester said. ‘Sometimes it just does work like it does on TV.’
Magana is in custody at the Orange County Men’s Central Jail and is booked on five counts of burglary for five separate incidents of backpack theft. Worcester believes Magana will be in jail for a very long time.
‘He’s facing many years of incarceration,’ Worcester said.
Magana spent 16 months in jail before being released earlier in the year. His release coincided with an increase in the number of bicycle and backpack thefts on campus. Because he was caught for stealing a bicycle two years ago, Magana was suspected for the current thefts.
‘He just got out of prison earlier this year,’ Worcester said. ‘Coincidentally, our bicycle thefts just jammed right up through the roofs again. So we suspected he was the one.’
According to Worcester, Magana might have stolen over 200 bicycles from campus.
‘Two hundred might be a conservative number,’ Worcester said.
Although the UCIPD was unable to positively identify Magana as the suspect until Oct. 27, a previous incident pointed toward Magana as the person responsible for the bicycle and backpack thefts.
On Oct. 8, an Irvine police officer spotted someone fitting Magana’s description attempting to steal a bicycle located near the Jack in the Box on the corner of Campus Drive and Stanford Court. Although the police officer was unable to catch Magana, the suspect’s recent absence from the area correlated with a drop in thefts.
‘Our bicycle thefts dropped off considerably over the course of the next two weeks,’ Worcester said.
After he was detained last Thursday, the police officer who attempted to catch the suspect on Oct. 8 positively identified Magana as that suspect.
The UCIPD’s investigation is still ongoing. Police are asking students who have had their bicycles or backpacks stolen within the last month to contact them.