It seemed an ordinary day at The Great Mall.
But just shy of two in the afternoon, a pair of loss prevention officers at Kohl’s saw a young woman pushing a loaded shopping cart out through the emergency exit. Outside waiting was a silver Mercedes-Benz, with a male accomplice at the wheel.
The loss prevention officers intervened, securing the merchandise but not the thieves. The male driver confronted them, aiming a firearm. He squeezed the trigger, but the gun malfunctioned.
Both suspects, however, managed to flee the scene. All that remained of them at Kohl’s was surveillance video footage, capturing their appearances.
The date was Thursday, July 19.
Milpitas detectives distributed flyers containing the suspects’ photographs to neighboring law enforcement agencies. It was the Alameda Police Department that came back with a positive match.
The male suspect was Miguel Tovanche. The female was Carmen Vargas.
Both had committed robbery before, and were already wanted for a theft in the City of Alameda.
Ramey warrants were soon issued: a $60,000 one for Tovanche, for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Burglary, and Conspiracy; and $10,000 one for Vargas, for Burglary and Conspiracy.
Staying up late into the night, detectives managed to get a search warrant for a Castro Valley residence linked to Tovanche.
It was less than one day after the robbery when the SWAT team sprung into motion.
SWAT team members with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office went in first. The suspects weren’t present, but once the SWAT officers ensured the home was safe to enter, Milpitas Police detectives took over, moving swiftly to gather evidence.
This happened at about 2AM, on July 20.
Four days later, in the dawn hours of July 24, Tovanche and Vargas were finally found. It was the Alameda Police Department that located them and made the arrest. Thereafter, Milpitas Police detectives arrived in Alameda, overtaking custody of the pair.
They were booked at Santa Clara County Jail.
In a press release issued on July 31, The Milpitas Police Department wrote:
“The Milpitas Police Department would like to give a special thanks to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in safely executing the search warrant at the Castro Valley residence and the cooperation of the Alameda Police Department in their efforts to capture Tovanche and Vargas.
If you have any information regarding this investigation; then you are encouraged to call the Milpitas Police Department at (408) 586-2400. Additionally, the information can be given anonymously by calling the Crime Tip Hotline at (408) 586-2500 or via the Milpitas Police Department website at: http://www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov/crimetip.”