An 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department was arrested this week after a Mentone homeowner confronted an alleged burglar in her home and sprayed him with bear repellant. The 44-year-old LAPD sergeant was found a few miles away after having crashed his car, apparently overcome by the spray. Items believed to belong to the repellant-wielding homeowner were allegedly found inside the vehicle.

Although the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office is convinced they have the right man, the sergeant has not yet been charged with the burglary. The reason is that the sheriff’s office wants to investigate whether the man could be responsible for other unsolved break-ins in the area, and is encouraging other departments in the region to do the same for their unsolved burglary cases.

“We find it hard to believe this is the first time he has done this kind of crime. He took property from this home and we suspect he has done it from others,” said a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office.

According to reports, the homeowner returned to her house after walking her dogs at about 6 p.m. When she entered the house, she saw an intruder and screamed and ran. The intruder allegedly pursued her, so she emptied a can of the bear repellant on him and he ran away.

When deputies responded later to a traffic accident in Highland, they noticed that the LAPD sergeant involved in the wreck reeked of pepper spray. Items including jewelry, cameras and camera equipment were found inside his vehicle and are believed to be items stolen from the Mentone home.

Over the course of his 18-year career with the department, the sergeant has served as a narcotics expert in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles and was recently transferred to the Olympic Division. He also operates his own mortgage and real estate business and lives in a spacious Highland-area home. He has six children.

He has been placed on administrative leave by the LAPD pending an internal investigation and the outcome of the criminal investigation into the Mentone home burglary and any unsolved area burglaries that police believe may be related. He has not yet been charged with any crime.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Is LAPD sergeant a serial burglar? After arrest, authorities check,” Richard Winton, Oct. 26, 2011