Raul Rubin Ramos, suspected by police to have been connected to nearly 50 burglaries last year throughout Pima County, has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts of third-degree burglary.
Last October, a string of robberies sharing similar characteristics caught the attention of police from Oro Valley, Marana, Pima County, and Sahuarita, and each jurisdiction would work together to bring Ramos to justice.
Even a year later, this case is being used a precedent for working together on a regional level to increase public safety, and solve cases.
“The burglaries were all very consistent,” said Oro Valley Detective Mike Cruce, who followed the case from beginning to end. “All four communities were experiencing strip mall burglaries, where the person was going up through the roof and then he’d find the easiest access to gain entrance to one of the businesses.”
After gaining access, usually through a skylight or air conditioning duct, Ramos would use tools to break through the interior sheet rock wall to gain access to the next business, where he would steal as many items as he could carry.
“He would take office cash, or portable laptops, or anything he could sell,” said Cruce. “This was going on for quite a while.”
Eventually police from Marana and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department obtained surveillance video of the vehicle used to transport the robbery suspect. The break would turn out to be a breaking piece of evidence.
Prior to the peak of the robberies, an Oro Valley police officer came across a white Toyota pickup with a camper shell, sitting vacant near a strip mall at about 3 a.m.
“He didn’t think anything of it, because at this point we hadn’t had a big run of strip-mall burglaries,” said Cruce. “But, he wrote down the license plate number and kept it.”
When the burglaries began to increase, the officer put two and two together, and presented the license plate number to Cruce.
“Now I know about the white vehicle that was seen in the video twice, and when I run this plate it comes back to a guy up in Phoenix,” said Cruce. “However, we had the guy’s name as a registered owner, but we couldn’t locate him.”
The new information was forwarded to all the other detectives in the other local agencies, and an around-the-clock regional search was initiated to find the pickup truck.
It didn’t take long.
The vehicle was spotted at a Motel 6 in Tucson.
“Eventually, Mr. Ramos gets into it, and they follow him using aircraft and vehicle surveillance, and they watch him sell things at gas stations, and this goes on for three or four different transactions,” said Cruce.
Ramos then headed toward Southeast Tucson, where he pulled into a dirt lot and remained parked for some time.
After basic questioning by a deputy sheriff, the driver identified himself as Raul Rubin Ramos, whose physical description matched much of the surveillance footage recovered.
“We had probable cause to make the arrest, and he was arrested, and read his rights,” said Cruce. “In the interview, he admitted to police he was the person responsible for these strip mall burglaries.”
The suspect also admitted to being under the influence of narcotics at the time of the burglaries, the money from which he used largely to purchase more drugs and pay for prostitutes.
Due to the number of agencies involved, the case was charged through the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, where police presented the prosecutor with all the evidence, including a DNA connection to the suspect.
“He would go into these businesses, eat the employees’ lunches and he left half an apple, and we got DNA off that,” said Cruce. Ramos also left latex gloves behind with DNA.
Additionally, all four agencies were able to get shoeprint matches from the shoes recovered from Ramos at the scene of the burglaries.
Ramos was sentenced on June 4 to seven and a half years plus restitution.
“The key to this whole thing was the cooperation between each of the four police agencies,” said Cruce. “If we or the other agencies had done this alone, it wouldn’t be likely that this guy would have been caught as soon as he was. The help from the Department of Public Safety’s crime lab also contributed to his conviction.”
For the 46-year-old Ramos, the offense was not his first, as he previously spent time in prison for partaking in the exact same type of crimes in Phoenix.
“You’d think they’d learn their lesson, but for some people, this is all they have,” said Sergeant Dean Nesbitt, who oversaw Oro Valley’s investigation of the burglaries.
Whether or not Ramos learned his lesson this time around can only be determined by time, but for one buyer of Ramos’ stolen property, the lesson was a bit more immediate.
“I approached this guy at this tire shop, and this guy was wearing these brand new boots,” said Cruce. “I go, ‘Where’d you get those boots?’ and he says, I bought them from my buddy, and I said ‘I know, they’re stolen property, I need them.’
“The guy went back into the dumpster and picked up his old, nasty boots.”