Illegal immigrant arrested for vandalism 

A man who allegedly caused $250,000 in damage keying and burglarizing cars in South San Francisco and San Bruno was arrested Monday near downtown South City.

After 20 cars were keyed Monday, Carlos Canales, 28, an illegal immigrant and transient in South San Francisco, was arrested on the 400 block of Baden Avenue in South City at approximately 3 p.m. when a witness reported someone peeping into cars.

Canales, who has multiple prior arrests for drug possession, was arrested for felony attempted burglary and giving false information to a police officer, a misdemeanor offense. He also had two felony warrants out for methamphetamine possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

No bail was set because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on his case; when his cases are finished he will be deported, according to authorities.

Since January, there have been 170 car vandalisms — ranging from key scratches to smashed windows and burglary — in South San Francisco and 45 incidences in San Bruno, according to police.

Video surveillance in areas where cars were damaged shows Canales in the vicinity. He did identify himself in the photos but said he did not damage the cars, South San Francisco police Sgt. Joni Lee said.

Lee said, however, she was unsure if Canales could be directly connectedto the vandalisms due to the lack of evidence. The investigation is ongoing, but none of the vandalism cases have been referred to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Lee said.

"Circumstantially, we believe it’s him," Lee said. And there were no reports of car vandalisms Tuesday, she noted.

"We’re pretty confident this is the same individual that’s inflicted the damage," Chief Mark Raffaelli said. The acts of vandalism do not appear motivated by any kind of gang or group affiliation, Raffaelli said

The attacks occurred all over the cities but the occurrences were usually in bunches located close to each other and involved similar actions, like keying or breaking windows with a rock, he said.

Josue Zepeda’s car was keyed down to the metal on his driver’s side door and front left quarter panel as the car sat in his driveway in San Bruno, the 23-year-old auto body technician said.

"Whoever that is, he takes his time and doesn’t care," said Zepeda, who was contacted before news of the arrest broke. Zepeda said the intensity of the act — scratching a car down to the metal — indicated to him that there was some hate involved.

dsmith@examiner.com

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