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Savvy Theft Victim Helps Trap Suspect
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A citizen who thought she was helping a family friend became the victim of a large theft of personal items but turned things around in getting one of the thief’s accomplices arrested when they tried to sell the stolen items back to her.

Oakdale resident Nancy Hodge, 37, believed she was doing a good deed when acquaintance Kayla Keys, 27, and her four-year-old child showed up at her front door two weeks ago stating they had no place to stay.

“It was late at night when she knocked at the door,” Hodge said. “I couldn’t turn her away, especially with her kid.”

Hodge allowed Keys and her child to spend the night at her North Fourth Avenue home but the following morning noticed Keys and her child were gone – along with cash, over $1500 in jewelry, prescription medications and her iPhone.

That afternoon Oakdale Police arrested Keys when her own mother called stating she was concerned about the child and Keys was acting under the influence of something at the mother’s Davitt Avenue home.

When police arrived they found Keys in possession of Hodge’s medication, but no other stolen items, and arrested her for narcotic and stolen property charges.

Hodge was still diligent in pursuing the outstanding items and, using another cell phone, sent intermittent text messages to the phone in hopes of getting an answer.

On Monday, May 11, Hodge received a return message and advised that the phone was stolen and wanted it back.

She contacted the subject with the phone who stated he wanted $150 and would sell it back to her.

Hodge arranged to meet him at Starbucks on East F Street near Yosemite Avenue but only after she contacted Oakdale Police to update them on her quest.

Hodge worked with Sgt. Mike Nixon who, with other officers, waited near the location and was able to observe Hodge.

Around 11 a.m., Helder Garcia, 35, rode up on a bicycle, met with Hodge and presented her iPhone.

“He looked real nervous and may have thought something was up,” said Hodge.

When Sgt. Nixon appeared, Garcia dropped the iPhone and attempted to flee on his bicycle but after a short foot pursuit by officers was apprehended around the corner.

“She did a really good job,” said Nixon, with a sweaty handcuffed Garcia sitting in the backseat of his patrol unit. “These are the types of cases I love working.”

Garcia was arrested for possession of stolen property and may have other charges pending.

Nixon said the department would be interviewing Garcia about the other outstanding items and the investigation was continuing.