Selfie Suspect Identified, Stolen Property Returned NR16058pv

February 19, 2016

Reseda: About 7 PM this evening, Arleta resident, Michael Soto, 26, walked into LAPD’s West Valley Police Station and surrendered the Kindle and smartphone taken from a car at the Jack-in-the-Box parking lot on February 9, 2016.

Soto was the man depicted in the pictures that were uploaded after the Kindle was stolen. The pictures were later released to the public to identify the persons in the pictures. The woman in the pictures was Soto’s mother, but detectives have cleared her of any involvement in the theft.

“Soto’s mother had no idea the Kindle had been stolen,” said Capt. Paul Vernon, head of the West Valley Patrol Division. “It’s only fair that we say that for the sake of her reputation.”

When detectives released the selfie pictures, there was no assumption the persons depicted had committed any crime, though it was a possibility. Detectives could assume only the persons in the pictures had access to the stolen Kindle after the theft.

Soto was accompanied to the police station by his brother. “I think there was a bit of family pressure to get Michael to return the stolen items and fess up, if nothing else, to help clear his mom’s name,” Capt. Vernon added. “Michael may have a bigger debt to pay to his mom than to society.”

Detectives returned the stolen tablet and smartphone to the owner, and they will file misdemeanor charges with the city attorney. Soto was released pending charges. Since the theft was a misdemeanor, police cannot arrest without a warrant.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Det. Mark Pearce, West Valley detectives, at 818-374-7753. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.