ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Police say a man is finally behind bars after a crime spree in North County, but that he could have landed in jail much sooner if not for the state’s “zero bail” policy in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Timothy Alvarado, a 22-year-old from La Mesa, was released from jail in Vista after completing a burglary sentence on April 3, but it didn’t take long for him to land in trouble with the law again.
On May 2, Escondido Police Department says he led officers on a high-speed chase in a stolen minivan, driving on the wrong side of the road at times in his attempt to escape officers. Police eventually caught up and arrested him on a variety of charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest and felony evading.
Typically, he would be booked into jail, but during the coronavirus pandemic, the Judicial Council of California has introduced an “emergency bail schedule” under which certain misdemeanors and lower-level felonies automatically have bail set at $0.
The policy is aimed at stemming a spike in virus cases in jails and prisons across the state, and at relieving overwhelmed courts that can’t process cases as quickly under pandemic restrictions. Criminal justice advocates have cheered the measure, arguing that the cramped and sometimes less-than sanitary confines of detention facilities should be partially emptied of nonviolent offenders.
DUI, domestic violence and sex crimes are among those still operating under the typical bail system — but the allegations facing Alvarado are not. He was released with a citation for a later court date.
He was back in custody just two days later — then arrested again six days later, and again four days later. All told, Alvarado was arrested four times over the course of 14 days. Each time, he was released under the zero bail system. The arrests — according to EPD — included:
- The May 2 arrest connected to the alleged police chase;
- An arrest on May 4, when Alvarado is accused of driving a stolen Jaguar;
- An arrest on May 10, when Alvarado is accused of stealing a Mitsubishi Lancer and being in possession of methamphetamine;
- And an arrest on May 14, when police say they pulled over Alvarado in the same stolen Mitsubishi.
Police say in addition to his four arrests, Alvarado was also cited twice by officers for minor charges that would not have resulted in jail even under typical circumstances.
Finally, on May 16, an employee at a City of Escondido public works yard heard someone yelling “stop” from a nearby bus station, and found a homeless man bleeding profusely from his neck. The worker also saw a man in a hoodie emerge from the bushes and run off.
Police say when they tracked down the suspect, it turned out to be Alvarado once again. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide — a charge that finally landed him behind bars, where he remains this week.
The stabbing victim was taken to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery, and remains in treatment.
Police say the 22-year-old’s alleged crime spree is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the stabbing, or any of Alvarado’s other arrests, was encouraged to call the police department or use their anonymous tip line: 760-743-TIPS (8477)