Pasadena Resident Who Recovered Gardener’s Stolen Work Truck Honored with District Attorney’s Courageous Citizen Award

Published : Thursday, April 5, 2018 | 5:41 AM

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey addresses Pasadena Rotary during the Courageous Citizens Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey honored lifelong Pasadena resident and Los Angeles Police Department officer Frank Banuelos along with two other brave individuals at the annual Courageous Citizen Awards Ceremony Wednesday at the University Club in recognition of their crime-stopping efforts in the community.

Banuelos played a critical role in recovering a neighborhood gardener’s stolen work truck while off-duty, ultimately leading the Pasadena Police Department to arrest the suspect.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey with award recipient and Pasadena resident, Frank Banuelos.

Banuelos was honored with the award alongside citizens Tracy Richardson and Leo Richard Anicua.

“We gathered individuals who have shown a great amount of bravery. They’ve stepped up in a dangerous situation and in a split second they decided they were going to make a difference even if it meant risking their own safety,” said District Attorney Jackie Lacey. “These honorees come from various walks of life, but they each have bravery in common.”

The Courageous Citizens Award was created by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to commend individuals who have acted with courage— and at considerable personal risk—to help crime victims, assist in the capture of a suspect or testify in the face of extraordinary pressures. The award recipients exemplify the highest form of community service.

“I grew up here in Pasadena and I love this city. I try to find different ways to be involved in maintaining the spirit of Pasadena, which is always welcoming and diverse, and I try to do my part as a citizen of Pasadena and to enhance the quality of life here,” said Banuelos.

A pickup truck owned by Banuelos’ gardener was stolen in Pasadena with his tools inside last December.

On Jan. 19, the victim gardener, while working at Banuelos’ home, saw someone drive by in his truck. The victim told Banuelos, who immediately called Pasadena police and ran to his vehicle to pursue the stolen truck.

Banuelos, an off-duty Los Angeles Police officer, stayed on the phone with Pasadena police, notifying them of the suspect’s location until they arrived and arrested the suspect.

“As a police officer, what I did on that particular day just comes second nature–it’s what we’re trained to do. We’re never off duty and I did what anybody else would have done,” said Banuelos.

Banuelos recognizes that police cannot be everywhere at all times during criminal acts and is sure to take it upon himself as a citizen to help out in any way that he can.

“I try to make the job easier for police officers because they can’t be everywhere,”

Banuelos offered up some tips to residents about keeping an eye on their community.

“Work with your neighbors to maintain the quality of life of each particular neighborhood of Pasadena. Every neighborhood is a little bit different, but we should all strive to strengthen our individual communities to make them better,” said Banuelos.

Tracy Richardson and Leo Richard Anicua are the two other Los Angeles County residents who were recognized for their brave efforts.

On June 2, 2016, Richardson saw a man yelling and cursing at his dog before using a chain wrapped around the animal’s neck to lift the dog and slam it against a metal gate.

She immediately called 9-1-1 and followed the man as he walked the animal through Silver Lake and lifted the dog a few more times by the chain, slamming it against a tree, a metal traffic light pole, and other objects before punching the dog.

Richardson followed him until she saw him tie the dog up and walk away. Richardson then ran to check the dog’s well-being as police arrived and arrested the man.

Oct. 4, 2015, then 12-year-old Leo Richard Anicua witnessed a 78-year-old man sexually assault a 10-year-old relative as they waited for the girl’s mother in a parked car outside a Burbank supermarket.

Anicua was in the next vehicle waiting for his mother and witnessed the assault. He wrote down the vehicle’s license plate number and when his mother returned to the car, told his mother what he saw.

They drove to a police station to report the crime. Based on the information the 12-year-old boy provided, which included a description of the girl’s clothing, police officers located and arrested the man.

“This is one of my favorite duties as District Attorney and that’s because most of the time we’re dealing with people who commit crimes. But today we are flipping the switch and honoring the good people, the good actors, in the criminal justice system,” said Lacey.


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