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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Swimmers race after campus poolside robbers

    Two high-school-aged boys were chased by a UA masters swimmer and police after they were seen behaving suspiciously at a campus pool Tuesday afternoon, a university volunteer coach said.

    Ceasar A. Rodriguez, 16, and Franklin M. Dick, 18, caught the attention of UA swim team volunteer assistant coach Roric Fink when they entered the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, 1827 E. Enke Drive, through the back gate around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and walked toward the locker rooms.

    The teens walked by Fink’s office window and 15 to 20 minutes later, they walked back the other way. That suspicious behavior led him to confront them, Fink said.

    The teens first told Fink that they were at the pool diving, then changed their story to swimming, but when told they were not old enough to be in the pool with the masters swimmers, they said they were there to use the showers, Fink said, noting that they had wet hair.

    After the pair apologized and left, Fink followed them into the parking lot.

    He saw them going up one aisle of cars and down the other, Fink said. “”It looked like they were completely casing the lot.””

    At that point, Fink called police and alerted another coach, who told the swimmers to check their belongings.

    Upon checking his locker, masters swimmer Kevin Curtis, a political science junior, said he noticed that his wallet and car keys were missing.

    “”Me and another guy ran after them,”” Curtis said. “”I went running out, wet and pissed off.””

    After some searching of the area, a police aide spotted the two at a bus stop near the intersection of North Highland Avenue and East Broadway Boulevard, said University of Arizona Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia.

    Fink positively identified the teens at the bus stop.

    “”If I’d gotten to them first, I would probably be in jail right now,”” Curtis said. “”I was so angry.””

    Rodriguez gave police a false name but eventually admitted to police that he had taken items from a locker at the pool, the police report said.

    Police searched Rodriguez and found Curtis’ wallet and keys, the police report said. He was booked into the Pima County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of burglary in the third degree, theft of credit cards and false reporting to law enforcement.

    Rodriguez’s true identity was revealed at the detention center, where an outstanding juvenile warrant was confirmed and served by police, the police report said.

    A Swiss Army knife was found during a search of Dick, who admitted to taking it from another locker at the pool, police reports stated. Dick, who also had a kitchen knife and a butterfly knife on him, was booked into the Pima County Jail on charges of burglary in the first degree and theft of credit cards.

    The stolen items were immediately returned to the victims, police said.

    “”I can’t believe I got my stuff back,”” Curtis said.

    In most cases, stolen items are not recovered, Mejia said. “”There’s a good chance if they took the car, we would not have caught them,””

    “”This is the first incident we’ve had since I’ve been here,”” said Russ Bertram, program coordinator for facilities and operations for Arizona Athletics. About 18 months ago, UAPD mounted motion sensors around the pool and it’s been better since, he said.

    Mejia cautioned students against taking their own action in these incidents. It’s better to prevent crime than be involved in one, he said. Students should call police if they notice suspicious activity.

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