Modesto man sought in theft of rings, a purse

Modesto police investigators were looking Friday for a man suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of property from two of his friends Wednesday and Thursday.

The victims, a 79-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, were talking with Brian Whitehead when he suddenly ran off with their belongings, according to Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman.

Police described Whitehead, 42, as a white man with blond hair and brown eyes, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds.

The first theft occurred about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Gundlach said the victim was at Perko's Cafe on Yosemite Boulevard in Modesto when Whitehead approached him and began a conversation. The victim has known Whitehead for about a year and has helped him in the past, Gundlach said.

The two men walked outside and Whitehead asked to see the victim's rings. After the victim took off his rings, Whitehead put the rings on his fingers and ran away, Gundlach said.

The second theft occurred about 9:10 p.m. Thursday after the woman, who is Whitehead's former girlfriend, gave him a ride to an apartment complex on Covena Avenue in central Modesto. The woman's 5-year-old son also was in the car.

After they arrived at the apartment complex, Whitehead sprayed the victim with Mace and stole her purse, according to police.

Whitehead is wanted by police on suspicion of grand theft, robbery and child endangerment, Gundlach said.

Modesto police ask anyone who knows Whitehead's whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 or send an anonymous e-mail message to www.modestopolice. com/crimestoppers. Tipsters also can e-mail the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.modestopolice.com/

crimestoppers, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tips704" plus your message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.