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Off-Duty Georgia Deputy Tails Jewel Theft with Young Son in Tow

January 30, 2008  | 

A Cherokee County, Ga., sheriff's sergeant was taking his young son to the barber shop last Monday when he saw a white van tearing out of the parking lot of the shopping center.

Sgt. Jay Baker was driving into the center when a white van hit one car and nearly hit Baker's minivan.

"The guy looked like he was frantically trying to get away," Baker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Baker told the paper that he let his son know that they were going to follow "bad guys" for a few minutes. And while his son watched a DVD in the back seat, Baker followed the van for two miles.

After calling 911, Baker learned that a jewelry courier had just been robbed in the shopping center. Baker continued to tail the van.

Baker observed the van stopping at a nearby church where the driver met up with the drivers of a Nissan Maxima and a silver Infiniti. The van driver switched vehicles and the group drove south.

And Baker followed the cars onto I-575.

Soon Canton, Holly Springs, and Woodstock police pursued the suspect and Baker fell back. Officers stopped the van and the Infiniti, but the Maxima attempted to run. It crashed. One suspect was trapped in the Maxima; the other fled but was quickly captured.

Canton police arrested Luis Esquivel, 27; Jairo Munoz Guzman, 40; Hector Lopez, 26; Jose Morales Tenorio, 22; John Jairo Sierra, 21; and Marcela Puentas Torres, 31, all of Lawrenceville. All of the suspects were charged with robbery.

After the arrests, Baker took his son to the barber. He then returned to the scene to identify the crashed car as one that he had followed.

Police are investigating whether the suspects are part of an international ring of jewel thieves that have hit jewelry couriers and stores.

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