Two shoplifters captured after trying to shoot loss prevention agent
MILPITAS CA Aug 1 2018 — A pair of East Bay residents suspected in a Great Mall robbery from mid-July might be facing far more severe consequences had a gun not jammed while they were fending off loss-prevention officers, authorities said.
Miguel Israel Tovanche, 27, of Castro Valley, and Carmen Tara Vargas, 19, of Oakland, were arrested last week in connection with the armed theft at the Kohl’s at the Great Mall, as well as a robbery in Alameda.
The two were caught in Alameda after a five-day, multi-county search that included the search of a Castro Valley home linked to Tovanche.
According to Milpitas police, on the afternoon of July 19, two loss-prevention officers at Kohl’s spotted a woman pushing a shopping cart filled with merchandise through an emergency exit, where a silver Mercedes-Benz was parked right outside.
The security employees intercepted the cart before the woman could load anything into the car, but soon after, a man carrying a handgun aimed at them and pulled the trigger, police said. But the gun malfunctioned, and the man and woman drove off.
“If it didn’t (misfire), we could have had a very tragic incident possibly,” Milpitas Lt. Raj Maharaj said.
Responding officers soon learned that the two suspects were recorded on surveillance video. After their images were distributed to area law enforcement, they were recognized by Alameda police, who suspected them in a robbery in their city.
On July 20, Milpitas police traced Tovanche to a home in Castro Valley, where they and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team served a search warrant. But neither of the suspects was there, police said.
The suspects eluded captured until the early morning hours of July 24, where they were spotted by police in Alameda and arrested. Milpitas police traveled north to take Tovanche and Vargas into custody.
Tovanche was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of assault with deadly
weapon, burglary, and conspiracy, and is being held without bail, according to jail records. Vargas was booked into the Elmwood women’s jail on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy, and is being held on $110,000 bail.
Anyone with information about the case can contact Milpitas police at 408-586-2400 or leave a tip at 408-586-2500 or www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov/crimetip.