Garden Grove Police on Tuesday recovered nearly $1 million in stolen property — including two Ducati racing motorcycle, tools and computer diagnostic equipment — with help from the victim who paid a friend to watch his stuff overnight, only to have it disappear by morning.
The unusual case resulted in the arrest of a Garden Grove man Tuesday afternoon, with a second suspect still at large Wednesday.
Curt Puskas, 47, was booked at the GGPD jail late Tuesday afternoon. He faces charges including possessing of stolen property as well as drug charges after detectives found a quarter ounce of methamphetamine during a search of his car, said Lt. Bob Bogue of the GGPD.
The story begins last Friday, when a Midway City man reported to the Garden Grove PD that a U-Haul truck and enclosed U-Haul trailer containing the racing bikes, expensive tools and computer equipment, as well as household items, had gone missing.
The man was in the process of moving to Irvine from Midway City and had nowhere else to store the U-Haul truck and trailer overnight except in front of his friend’s house near Gilbert Street and Trask Avenue in Garden Grove, said Det. Pete Garcia of the GGPD.
The man paid his friend, and two acquaintances, to watch his property overnight Thursday, July 9.
But by Friday morning, the U-Haul truck and trailer were gone.
The friend told the victim he had no idea what had happened to them.
The victim, after reporting the theft to the GGPD, then started searching for the U-Haul truck and trailer on his own, Garcia said — convinced his two acquaintances had made off with the goods overnight.
On Monday, the victim spotted the U-Haul truck while driving around Midway City, Garcia said — the truck having been stripped of its U-Haul stickers.
The victim gave chase through Westminster and Huntington Beach and found the truck abandoned in Huntington Beach slightly damaged from a collision with an unknown object, Garcia said.
The driver of the truck had vanished, but the victim found a cell phone in the truck.
He then posed as the driver of the U-Haul to set up a meeting Tuesday with the second suspect, and notified the GGPD about the meeting, at a motel in Stanton.
Detectives questioned the suspect — Puskas — at around 1 p.m. Thursday at the motel.
Puskas cooperated with detectives and accompanied them to a storage facility in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon, where the Ducati motorcycles had been stored. One is valued at about $250,000 and the other more than $200,000, Garcia said.
Puskas then accompanied detectives to his estranged wife’s home in Westminster, where he had stored several boxes of stolen tools and other items belonging to the victim.
The suspect also told cops he and his accomplice abandoned the U-Haul trailer in Long Beach.
Det. John Casaccia, who is in charge of the investigation, joined Det. Garcia in taking pictures of the stolen items at the home in Westminster.
Puskas also told police he had stored some stolen items at a house in Garden Grove he shares with an aunt, who drove the items over to the home in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon.
The victim, whose name was not made public, thanked the GGPD detectives for helping him recover his stolen property.
And he told them he would be more careful about who he trusts.