Joseph Anthony Perez mugshot. Photo via Santa Ana Police Department
Joseph Anthony Perez mugshot. Photo via Santa Ana Police Department

A man pleaded guilty and was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for committing two bank robberies and two attempted stickups in Santa Ana and Fountain Valley in a three-day period.

Joseph Anthony Perez was out of custody for about two weeks when he began the bank-robbing spree. He was sentenced on Feb. 10 to two years in jail for pleading guilty in September to burglary and grand theft charges, according to court records.

The 27-year-old Perez has a lengthy criminal history dating back to a 2010 felony vandalism case for which he was placed on three years of probation, which was revoked at one point, according to court records.

Perez has multiple other felony and misdemeanor convictions involving receiving stolen property, graffiti vandalism, shoplifting, petty theft, possession of burglary tools and possession of stolen property, according to court records.

Perez had four cases filed against him in 2014, two in 2015 and four last year.

Perez represents “another example” of the failure of state laws to reduce prison overcrowding, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

“These flash incarcerations are a joke,” Bertagna said, adding that defendants “just laugh at them.”

However, UC Irvine criminal justice experts recently predicted that crime will go down this year and have argued that there’s no evidence that state laws meant to reduce prison overcrowding have led to an uptick in crime.

Perez’s crime spree started about 9:30 a.m. Feb. 25 when he attempted to rob a Bank of America branch at 3730 S. Bristol St. in Santa Ana.

Perez’s first of five robberies and robbery attempts on Feb. 27 occurred at 11:15 a.m. at a Wells Fargo branch at 1801 E. 17th St., but he failed to get any money, police said.

Other attempted robberies occurred at Bank of America branches at 16192 Harbor Blvd. in Fountain Valley at 12:05 p.m. and at 2015 W. First St. at 12:48 p.m. and at a Chase branch at 3600 S. Bristol St. at 2:52 p.m.

Police said Perez held up a Bank of the West branch at 3931 S. Bristol St. at 3:13 p.m.

The last stickup was Perez’s undoing, as a teller put a tracking device in the stolen loot, police said.

Investigators tracked Perez to a restaurant at 3713 S. Bristol St. However, when officers arrived, they found the device dumped under a car and determined the bandit had run off.

Police later found Perez walking on Bristol Street. When he spotted the officers, he tried to run away, but was taken into custody a short time later, police said.

–City News Service

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