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San Francisco School Officials Nab Suspected iPad Thief

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Gabriel Ruiz Vega (San Francisco Police Department)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Two administrators at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco are being called heroes for nabbing a suspected iPad thief on campus.

The private Catholic high school, where every student is issued the tablet computers, has seen a rash of thefts as of late. “You just get tired of it,” said Bill Gotch, the school’s Dean of Students.

Gotch said he was making his rounds on campus Thursday afternoon when he saw a suspicious young man with a backpack on the athletic field.

“He was telling me he was a student at a different school and that he had a brother on the team…just a bunch of inconsistencies,” Gotch said. “It wasn’t adding up very quickly.”

Gotch said he walked the young man back to the principal’s office, where he got increasingly nervous.

“So we just say, ‘We’re going to call the police … they’ll take it from here,’” said Principal Patrick Ruff, who also confronted the alleged thief. “And then he got more and more fidgety and takes off running.”

Ruff gave chase through the schoolyard and past the track, nabbing the man as he tried to climb out of the athletic courtyard.

“He’s trying to jump the fence and Mr. Ruff grabs his leg, pulls him down,” said Tre Paolini, a Saint Ignatius student.

After police arrived, the suspect tried for a second time to run away, but Ruff followed the suspect and caught him again.

Police eventually arrested 27-year old Gabriel Ruiz-Vega of South San Francisco. He is in the San Francisco County jail, facing 12 charges; among them 2nd degree burglary and receiving or buying stolen property. Ruiz-Vega also had a warrant out of San Bruno Police Department, a jail official said.

School officials believe Ruiz-Vega, who is small in stature, had spent days on the school grounds, posing as a student and stealing iPads out of backpacks in the athletic area, as students were exercising.

Gotch said the school recovered seven iPads from Ruiz. He said the serial numbers matched the stolen tablets from the school.

Principal Ruff said he did not really consider whether the suspect was armed when he gave chase.

“We talk about to our students and say, ‘Hey, we love you and we’ll do anything for you.’ We talk that,” Ruff said. “But I wanted to do it. I wanted to make sure they know that we’ll do it.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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