A 19-year-old Reseda man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of breaking into a dozen cars at two Simi Valley parking lots and stealing purses, cash, credit cards and a computer.
The arrest of Esteban Castaneda followed a two-week surveillance operation by the Simi Valley Police Department, Sgt. Arch Morgan said .
Castaneda was arrested at 10:40 a.m. after leading police on a brief car chase that ended when he slammed into a curb near the intersection of Kuehner Drive and Almar Street and flattened a tire.
Before the chase, Castaneda allegedly smashed the window of a car parked on Kuehner Drive, north of the Ronald Reagan Freeway. Police believe Castaneda burglarized vehicles parked in two dirt lots serving hikers in the Santa Susana Mountains.
Windows were smashed to gain entry in 12 burglaries reported since late February, Morgan said. A total dollar loss was not yet calculated.
"Most of the vehicles had purses, backpacks, and in one there was a computer taken," Morgan said. Goods stolen from the vehicles were found in Castaneda's car and in his Reseda home, Morgan said.
Castaneda was being detained and questioned in Simi Valley prior to his scheduled transfer to jail. arch said bail was not yet set.