Purse snatcher arrested, later attempts Hemet Jail escape

HEMET — A parolee who was arrested yesterday afternoon, Friday, Dec. 21, after allegedly stealing a woman’s purse while she shopped at a Hemet business, later made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from Hemet Jail; reportedly injuring a Hemet PD officer in the process. Despite his attempted break for freedom, the local resident only succeeded in adding a number of charges to his lengthy rap sheet.

Yesterday’s purse theft was the second purse snatching in as many days, after another similar incident that happened at a Hemet gas station Thursday. During both incidents, citizens’ direct intervention led to the apprehension of the involved suspects and recovery of both purses, which were later returned to their very grateful owners.


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Jesus Galvan Mata, aka: Jesus Mata Vargas, 32, of Hemet, was found hiding inside a closet and later arrested by officers investigating the theft of a purse from a Hemet Lowes in the 300 block of S. Sanderson Ave. Arresting officers discovered Mata’s cramped hiding spot while conducting a parole search after their theft investigation led to his Hemet residence.

Jesus Mata was arrested yesterday after allegedly stealing a woman’s purse. He later attempted to escape from Hemet Jail. HPD photo

City of Hemet police officers responded to reports of a purse snatching at the Lowes about 12:45 p.m., Hemet PD Lt. Nate Miller later told RCNS. “The female victim did not sustain any physical injuries and did not need any medical attention,” said Miller.

Responding officers learned that a man, later identified as Mata, had taken a 58-year-old woman’s purse and fled from the business in a white Nissan. An eagle-eyed witness was able to provide a license plate for the vehicle Mata was seen fleeing in and officers quickly learned the car was registered to a Hemet address, where the parolee was known to be living.

Based on their investigation, officers conducted a parole search at the home, eventually locating Mata hiding in a closet. During their search, officers also located the victim’s purse, as well as “additional evidence” that Miller said linked Mata to the Lowes’ purse snatching.

Mata was subsequently arrested and transported to Hemet Jail for processing.

Several hours later, while Mata was awaiting transport to a Riverside County Jail facility around 8 p.m., Mata reportedly became involved in an altercation with another arrestee while inside a holding cell within Hemet PD’s jail facility.

While Mata and the other arrestee were being separated and officials were moving Mata to another holding cell, the alleged thief made a break for freedom and attempted to escape from the facility.

“Mata did not get away from the facility and was immediately captured,” according to Miller, who explained the other detainee made no attempt to escape and remained in his cell during the ensuing fracas.

Official radio traffic at the time of the attempted escape indicated an officer was injured during the incident. “One of the officers sustained minor injury when he and Mata fell to the ground,” Miller later explained.  “That officer was treated a short time later and is expected to recover soon.”

Mata’s attempted jail escape last night was the second time since last October that a Hemet arrestee has attempted to escape from Hemet’s jail facility. The other incident, which happened Friday, Oct. 26, involved a man who first tried to escape from the facility and then later fought with officers and medical personnel at Hemet Valley Hospital while being treated for injuries he sustained during the attempted escape.


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Mata was later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of grand theft from a person, attempted escape, resisting arrest with violence, resisting or obstructing an officer, and prior prison enhancements. He was also booked for violation of parole and remains in custody without bail.

After Thursday’s purse snatch, which happened at a Hemet gas station while the victim was fueling her rental van, long-time Hemet resident James Halpert told RCNS, “We’re sick and damned tired of all the crime in Hemet and it’s no surprise people are starting to take matters into their own hands.”

“Our local cops do a great job, but they can’t be everywhere at all times. It’s up to us, the good people who live here, to take back our own city, one thug at a time,” Halpert continued. “Maybe if everyone was allowed to be armed and carry a gun with them – at all times, and not just inside their own homes – this nonsense would stop; because the criminals would never know who was packing heat.”

Anyone with information related to either of yesterday’s incidents involving Mata is encouraged to contact Hemet PD at (951) 765-2400. Callers can refer to incident file number 18-12321 and can remain anonymous.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren


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