El Cajon Police cruiser
An El Cajon Police cruiser. Photo by Chris Stone

A homeless probationer was back in jail Tuesday following his arrest on suspicion of carrying out a spate of thefts and a street robbery in El Cajon.

Sterle Floyd Sisco, 32, was taken into custody Monday afternoon after allegedly stealing about $1,200 worth of merchandise, including a bicycle, from a department store in the 200 block of Broadway and then forcibly taking a second bike and other possessions from a passer-by while fleeing from officers, according to the El Cajon Police Department.

The events that led to Sisco’s arrest began about 2:45 p.m., when patrol officers responded to a shoplifting call from a Target store in the 200 block of Broadway, ECPD Lt. Randy Soulard said.

Loss-prevention personnel at the business — where Sisco is suspected of committing at least seven prior thefts — reported that they had watched him while he allegedly filled a suitcase with merchandise, picked up a Schwinn bicycle from a display area and then fled.

While searching the neighborhood for the shoplifter, officers climbed into a culvert in the 1200 block of Graves Avenue, where they spotted the suspect heading to the west under state Route 67, toward Magnolia Avenue, Soulard said.

Upon seeing the police personnel giving chase, the suspect dropped the suitcase and bicycle and continued to flee through the drainage channel.

A short time later, officers were flagged down at Cypress Lane and Pioneer Way, about a mile northwest of the Target store, by a man who reported that a thief had just pushed him off his bicycle and stolen it along with a sweatshirt and his riding helmet.

Officers subsequently found the suspect again fleeing through the culvert, this time near Billy Mitchell Drive and North Marshall Avenue, wearing a sweatshirt and riding a bicycle matching the descriptions of those stolen from the robbery victim.

“Officers ordered the suspect to stop, but he rode away northbound in the drainage canal,” the lieutenant said.

As deputies aboard a sheriff’s patrol helicopter tracked the suspect’s movements from above, police followed him on foot, eventually catching up to him and taking him into custody.

The Target security employees who reported the latest shoplifting episode attributed to Sisco and the street-robbery victim identified him as the alleged perpetrator of the crimes, according to Soulard.

Sisco was arrested on suspicion of robbery, grand theft and violation of terms of his probation, then taken to a medical center for evaluation after telling police he had swallowed a quantity of fentanyl.

“Officers will remain with Sisco at the hospital until he can be booked into San Diego County jail,” Soulard said. “During the course of this investigation, it was determined that Sisco lives at and frequents (a) large homeless encampment just outside of El Cajon city limits on North Magnolia (Avenue), near the Vernon Avenue overpass.”

At the time of his arrest, Sisco was on probation stemming from an assault conviction, according to police.