SAN JOSE -- Nowadays, a home burglary in San Jose is on the lower end of police priorities, a casualty of shortstaffing that has funneled more and more resources to emergency calls.

But in one very visible instance this week, a man shown breaking into a Cambrian-area home on high-definition home security video was arrested, thanks in part to a sympathetic off-duty police sergeant who pursued the case.

David Michael Pietrzak, 50, of San Jose, was arrested Tuesday evening in Walnut Creek by the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team. When he was taken into custody, two warrants were circulating for him: one in Morgan Hill, where he was suspected of burglarizing a home July 29 on San Benito Road and a second for not reporting to his probation officer under the state's prison-realignment policy.

He gained more visibility earlier this week after a daytime burglary Sunday on Varden Avenue. A man closely resembling Pietrzak was recorded breaking into the home of Lily Leiby, who released the surveillance footage to police and the media.

Leiby was initially told by responding officers that short of catching a thief red-handed, they could not promise swift resolution, citing an undermanned burglary unit.

Soon after, San Jose patrol Sgt. Joaquin Barreto, saw coverage of the break-in and started looking into the case on his day off, police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said.


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About the same time, Morgan Hill police identified Pietzrak as a burglary suspect in that city and circulated his photo. Barreto saw he was a "pretty good match" for the man shown in the video. Barreto worked with Morgan Hill detectives and learned Pietzrak absconded on his post-release community supervision, which the state implemented in 2011 to move certain nonviolent offenders out of prisons, lessen their sentences, and place them under county supervision, to comply with court-ordered prison-overcrowding relief.

Pietzrak, a convicted burglar, was one of the first inmates released under what is commonly known as prison realignment, which law-enforcement officials have blamed -- anecdotally, since precise figures have been hard to come by -- for rising property-crime rates throughout the state.

Barreto gathered information suggesting Pietzrak was in Walnut Creek, and the county enforcement team went there to arrest him on the two warrants. Interrogations soon linked him to the videotapedincident, and he is thought to have committed a slew of other burglaries in the county, including as many as a dozen in San Jose, Morales said.

Leiby, who noted her home was burglarized two years ago with no resolution, was able to recover some of her lost items and voiced gratitude for Barreto's off-duty sleuthing.

"He's been a huge help from the beginning," she said. "He took it on personally and has been the one leading this from the beginning. We're so grateful to him."

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.