A Taser gun issued by the San Mateo Police Department turned up during a gang-related probation search this week, forcing the department to investigate how the weapon ended up in the hands of a convicted criminal.
"It appears it was stolen out of an unmarked car,” said San Mateo police Lt. Tom Daughtry. "We’re not certain when it happened, about a day before it was recovered.”
At 10:03 p.m. Wednesday, the San Mateo County Gang Task Force conducted a probation search at a home in the 3200 block of La Selva Street in the city of San Mateo. It found probationer Omar Benjamin Almaraz, 24, in possession of a San Mateo Police Department Taser gun and another person’s debit card.
Almaraz was arrested on two counts of receiving stolen property and arraigned Friday in San Mateo Superior Court.
Police don’t believe he was responsible for stealing the property, Daughtry said.
Daughtry said the theft was still under investigation and it’s unclear who was responsible for taking the Taser gun. However, another person was already arrested on related charges earlier in the week, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Jose Gallegos, 24, of San Mateo, was arraigned earlier this week and charged with grand theft and receipt of stolen property in relation to the Almaraz case. He pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $20,000, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
"It appears to be a crime of opportunity,” Wagstaffe said.
Theft of a Taser gun — or any police weapon — does not carry any additional charges. There were no additional charges filed for gang affiliation, Wagstaffe said.
It’s a rare case when a police department’s Taser gun turns up stolen. Both Daughtry and Wagstaffe could not recount another similar case.
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