When Sacramento thieves stole his briefcase from a state-owned car, Assemblyman Curt Hagman took matters into his own hands Monday night -- tracking two suspects to a gasoline station off Interstate 80.
"We start walking toward the car, then they gun the engine and try to run us over," said Hagman, who is no stranger to confronting crime suspects as the owner of Apex Bail Bonds. He also is a longtime volunteer captain for a sheriff's disaster assistance team.
Hagman and California Highway Patrol Lt. Rick Campbell gave the following account of the Chino Republican's firsthand look at Sacramento crime Monday -- as a burglary victim:
Hagman had left his Assembly pool car, a 2007 Toyota Camry, with valet parking at Ella's restaurant near 12th and K streets while he attended a back-to-session bash to raise funds for Republican legislative leaders.
When Hagman tried to retrieve the car about 10 p.m., a parking attendant discovered that its back window had been broken. Hagman's briefcase was missing, containing his iPad, camera, checkbook and various keys.
"I was obviously pretty bummed out," he said.
Hagman said that his iPad contained an electronic device that signals its location, so he was able to track it to a vehicle parked at a gasoline station on El Centro Road. He and a friend, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, drove to that location and tried to approach the suspect car containing two young males.
The thieves sped away, after nearly running Hagman and Leon down. "We start chasing them down a little bit," Hagman said, but he lost track of their vehicle when the electronic device stopped signaling a location, apparently because the thieves had turned the iPad off.
Nonetheless, Hagman had copied down the suspicious vehicle's license plate number and gave it to the CHP, which tracked the two men and took them into custody hours later.
David Butayev, 26, of West Sacramento, was arrested on a burglary charge after officers found some items apparently belonging to Hagman in his custody, Campbell said. Butayev's companion is not believed to have participated in the theft and is not expected to be charged.
Campbell said there is not enough evidence to sustain a charge that the men tried to hit Hagman and Leon with their car at the El Centro Road gas station. "We think they were trying to flee rather than running anybody over," he said.
Hagman, the Assembly GOP's assistant floor leader, said his briefcase remains missing.
"(The suspects) are basically saying they tossed my briefcase after they took the stuff they wanted," he said.
* Updated at 3:55 p.m. Thursday to add the name of the arrested suspect, David Butayev. Updated at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to characterize the event Hagman attended as a back-to-session bash to raise funds for GOP legislative leaders.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, looks over a copy Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address, that he gave to a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli)