EL MONTE, Calif. – In broad daylight, two men were caught on cell phone video stealing the tires of a BMW in El Monte.
Elementary school teacher Isabel Fountain, who witnessed the incident while on her way to her summer job, immediately pulled out her phone to record the scene.
She mentioned that it was an instinctive reaction and didn’t consider the potential danger involved.
The theft took place on June 24 at approximately 10 a.m. Fountain managed to capture the license plate and one of the suspects before they fled with one of the tires. In the video, Fountain can be heard expressing her disbelief and questioning their actions.
Fountain shared the video on TikTok, which quickly went viral, amassing 9.2 million views. She also reported the crime to the El Monte Police Department. Fortunately, the officers recognized one of the suspects due to his extensive criminal history.
El Monte Sgt. Roger Cobian stated, “This individual has a long history of crimes, and we were fortunate to apprehend him this time.” As a result, 50-year-old Felipe Ramirez from El Monte was arrested.
However, only one man was taken into custody as the second individual in the video could not be identified. Surprisingly, Fountain was informed by the police that Ramirez had to be released on the same day he was arrested.
Fountain expressed her concern about the situation, stating, “It’s troubling because it doesn’t prevent them from committing further burglaries or similar crimes. They can go out the same day and victimize someone else.”
El Monte Police explained that, although it is disappointing for the victims, law enforcement can only enforce the laws and not create them. Ramirez’s release was attributed to the current zero bail policy, as the theft was considered a nonviolent crime.
Sgt. Cobian clarified, “In the eyes of LA County’s current policy, this is an offense for which someone should receive a citation and be released until their court date, rather than being held in custody.”