By Lea Barrios and Brittany Mason
WOODLAND – A preliminary hearing called to the stand several Davis police officers and specialists who responded to reports of stolen laptops, wallets, and backpacks in 2018.
The defendant, Christopher Jones, was charged with robbery in the second degree and 10 counts of burglary. One of the alleged victims of the string of burglaries fell asleep on the couch in his living room and allegedly woke up to the defendant climbing through a window and scanning the room. He was later shown a lineup of photos and identified the defendant.
Officer Sandeep Maan testified that she interviewed one of the alleged victims whose laptop, flash drive, and phone were stolen from his coffee table. She stated after being asked by the defense that the alleged victim told her he left the sliding door to his apartment unlocked and ajar to let air in. The defense also found out from a witness that one alleged victim waited 14 hours to report the burglary.
Ashley Adair is a police services specialist for the Davis Police Department. Part of Adair’s job is being a crime analyst which, for this case, meant location mapping. By using the software Geotime, Adair can take data and map where a cell phone for GPS device had been when and where a “ping” had occurred.
A “ping” refers to when a cellular device has either had an outgoing or incoming call. When either call type has occurred, the phone in question will “ping” as it connects to the closest cell phone tower. The “ping” will record the approximation of the location and time stamp information of said phone. When Adair uses Geotime, she is provided a map of the city and is shown where various “pings” were located.
Adair had received data from Sergeant Bestpitch and proceeded to connect the suspect’s phone records and pings to the whereabouts of the locations of the burglaries. Additionally, Sergeant Bestpitch accessed the defendant’s rideshare accounts such as Uber and Lyft and discovered that the defendant took rides from locations of one burglarized home to another.
One ride recorded that the defendant rode from the UC Davis campus to Drake Drive at 5 am, where a burglary occurred. Another ride recorded the defendant being dropped off on Sycamore Boulevard near a location that was burglarized on the same date.
Sergeant Bestpitch reviewed surveillance video from an apartment that showed the defendant walking around the apartment complex appearing to look inside apartments through their windows. Bestpitch said she saw the defendant in the video duck when a car with its headlights on drove by. Another residence that was allegedly burglarized captured an image of the defendant on a Ring camera, a video doorbell device.
On various occasions through August and September, Adair was able to see on a 2D map where the defendant had been in the early hours of the mornings in Davis. These were accessible by the defendant’s cell phone “pings.” For the majority of the time, the “pings” were located in Davis and between midnight and 8 a.m.
The prosecution presented five separate occasions where the defendant was “pinged” in Davis during these early hours.