Police arrest 2 in connection with thefts from Westminster gym

Christopher Blackburn
Christopher Blackburn
Tiffany Cauyong
Tiffany Cauyong

FOUNTAIN VALLEY Two people were arrested Wednesday in connection with thefts from lockers at a Fountain Valley gym, police said.

Tiffany Cauyong, 18, and Christopher Blackburn ,19, both of Daly City were booked into the  Orange County Jail on suspicion of burglary, grand theft, and fraud, Fountain Valley police Sgt. Tony Luce said in a statement.

Around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, police were notified that several lockers had been broken into at 24 Hour Fitness, 17200 Brookhurst St., Luce said.

Cauyong  and  Blackburn are suspected of stealing car keys, credit cards and cellphones, Luce said. Police believe the pair used the keys to unlock vehicles in the gym parking lot to take additional items.

Cauyong and Blackburn were arrested as they left Westminster Mall where police say they used stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.

 

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Man sentenced to 52 years-to-life for stabbing mother’s boyfriend to death

SANTA ANA A 29-year-old Anaheim man was sentenced to 52-years-to-life in prison on Friday for stabbing his mother’s boyfriend to death in a rage over how the boyfriend treated her.

A jury in March convicted Ruben Martinez of first-degree murder for the death of Maximino Fuentes Clara, 52, of Garden Grove, who was found lying in the street with multiple stab wounds in an unincorporated area near Anaheim on Nov. 16, 2014.

Martinez, who has prior convictions for carjacking and vehicle theft, stabbed Clara after an argument, prosecutors said.

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Off-road racing team at Cal State Fullerton prepares students for futures in mechanical engineering

  • Cal State Fullerton student Jason Klein sends sparks as he works on his team’s SAE Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton student Jason Klein sends sparks as he works on his team’s SAE Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team pose for a photo with their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team pose for a photo with their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton assistant professor Joseph Piacenza, center, helps Cameron Reiff, right, and Sarah Garcia with their Baja race car in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton assistant professor Joseph Piacenza, center, helps Cameron Reiff, right, and Sarah Garcia with their Baja race car in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton students Chris Huab, right, and Cameron Reiff work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton students Chris Huab, right, and Cameron Reiff work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team work on their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team work on their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton student Chris Huab sits in the driver’s seat of his team’s Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton student Chris Huab sits in the driver’s seat of his team’s Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton student Dustin Ferguson stands next to his team’s Baja race car in class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton student Dustin Ferguson stands next to his team’s Baja race car in class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team pose for a photo with their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Members of the Cal State Fullerton SAE Baja racing team pose for a photo with their car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton’s logo in the driver’s seat of their SAE Baja car in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton’s logo in the driver’s seat of their SAE Baja car in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton students Chris Huab, left, and Dustin Ferguson smile as they work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton students Chris Huab, left, and Dustin Ferguson smile as they work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cal State Fullerton students work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

    Cal State Fullerton students work on their Baja race car during class in Fullerton on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Foster Snell, Contributing Photographer)

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Cal State Fullerton’s Engineering Lab 21 is more garage than classroom, workshop than lecture hall.

In here, students are apprentices, learning on the job.

With an inconspicuous exterior, most Titans likely pay the building on the eastern side of the campus no mind walking from their car to kinesiology or business class. A display board hung outside showing the triumphs of the club inside goes largely unnoticed.

Over the past year, a group of students who too once ignored the lab have spent more than 2,000 hours sequestered inside, building a dune buggy.

Last month, CSUF’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja racing team put its baby, “Atlas,” to the test in an off-road collegiate competition featuring more than 100 student teams from around the world.

For these college crews, the annual race – held this year up the 5 Freeway in Gorman – is the group’s Super Bowl, “the bridge between the classroom and practical application,” said Joseph Piacenza, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the team’s faculty advisor.

In its third year back on campus following a seven-year hiatus, the Baja club seeks to “build on engineering principles,” Piacenza said.

“To go above and beyond the classroom, and bring the engineering process full circle, so when students leave here, they can get full-time jobs in the field.”

***An eclectic group

Joel Amposta was raised in the medical field, but always was called upon to help when something went wrong with his father’s 1993 Honda Accord.

The boy graduated from holding a light above the engine to fixing busted parts to changing oil.

“Before I knew it,” Amposta said, “I found myself here in Baja.”

Jason Klein, Dustin Ferguson and Cameron Reift had much more conventional apprenticeships, riding dirt bikes for years before entering Lab 21.

“A perfect fit,” Klein called the club.

With little in the way of on-campus advertising, CSUF students arrive at Piacenza’s lab because a classmate told them about Baja racing, or a friend of a friend, or someone on the team they happened to have a class with.

Be it the smell of metal and grease or the challenge of applying classroom knowledge to real-world problems, the newcomers, more often than not, stay.

“It took a while for me to get accustomed to everything,” Amposta said. “I’m a city kid from Orange, with no off-roading experience other than going to fairs. It was a culture shock at first.”

The team of 30 to 35 has students of all classes and majors. The upperclassmen are in Piacenza’s senior design class, for which one project is building the Baja buggy. Underclassmen join the team as they would a club.

Piacenza counted three girls in the crew, and said he hopes more come out in the future. This year’s team has more students with previous off-roading experience than teams past, the professor said.

Amposta, 23, is the operations team captain, in charge of bolstering the group’s profile on campus. Klein, 27, serves as chassis principal engineer and Ferguson, 23, leads all suspension operations.

Reift, 21, is the manufacturing lead and main driver.

The work required to get the buggy up and running “is something you take home with you,” Klein said. “The competition is over, and I’m still thinking of ways to help it.

“Once you start, you don’t stop.”

***Building a buggy

Each new Baja racing team takes the previous year’s design and improves it, with an eye on competing in the annual competition. (Long Beach State, Cal Poly Pomona and UC Irvine also have teams.)

Outgoing seniors and students who will return next year already are refining Atlas – itself a descendant of 2016’s Hyperion and 2015’s Cronus. The group will work through the summer, Piacenza said, trying to make next year’s buggy lighter – and by extension, faster.

“Always lighter,” Reift said.

Atlas, named for the Greek Titan of strength and endurance, was lighter than last year’s buggy, with enhanced ergonomics and other improvements.

This year’s team also designed and manufactured its own transmission – a club first, and by no means an easy task, Piacenza said.

“It’s one thing to build a buggy on a computer,” Reift said. “It’s another thing to bring it to life.”

Students build these buggies as though they will be sold to the masses. All cars use the same power engine, but design and manufacturing are left up to the teams.

The project is internally funded, requiring students to convince local companies to invest in their efforts, Piacenza said. The crew raised $4,000 throughout the school year, in addition to donations of time and gifts in kind.

At last month’s competition, CSUF finished high in two timed races: maneuverability and suspension. The team’s fifth place finish in maneuverability was a club record, Piacenza said.

A gnarly crash early and a critical mechanical breakdown late led to a disappointing finish in the marquee endurance race.

Still, Piacenza said his crew left the course proud of Atlas. Sunburned and a little tired, but itching to get back into Lab 21.

“Working with a team, leading a team, solving problems, working on the fly, that’s what I love,” Ferguson said.

“Before this project, I was introverted. I’d stick to myself,” Amposta added. “This project forced me to get out of my comfort zone, to get out of my shell.

“A total flip. Now I have a well-rounded skill set to bring with me into the work force.”

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Irvine man arrested after allegedly posing as a Fullerton employee to get inside business

FULLERTON An armed man posing as a city employee possibly to case an auto dealership was arrested Tuesday, May 2, police said.

Police arrested Junichi Kitasumi, 28, of Irvine on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, burglary tools and narcotics.

Kitasumi also was in possession of prescription painkillers and Oxycodone, which he had concealed upon entering Fullerton Jail, Radus said.

Officers responded around 8:30 a.m. to the dealership in the 18 block of West Commonwealth Avenue for a report of a suspicious person, Fullerton Sgt. Jon Radus said.

The business was open.

Kitasumi, wearing a reflective vest, claimed to be a city worker checking on a power surge from the previous night, witnesses told police. But officers searched Kitasumi and found a loaded 9-mm handgun in his waistband and unspecified burglary tools, authorities said.

Officers also found a controlled substance and prescription drugs in his vehicle, he added.

Police believe the suspect may have been casing the dealership for car keys or to disable the security system, Radus said. The investigation is ongoing.

Radus said that business owners and residents should be aware of people posing as workers for services that weren’t requested.

“People should always ask for identification, and if they are unsure then make a phone call to the company to confirm the services,” he said.  “At the very least, they can contact police.”

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