SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities offered a $20,000 reward Friday for information leading to the capture of two dangerous prisoners who broke out of a Northern California jail on Thanksgiving Eve after sawing through bars across a second-floor window.
Authorities believe the men are still in the San Francisco Bay area based on numerous sightings reported since they escaped late Wednesday night, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.
“I want to remind the community that these are dangerous people,” she said. “They are not to be approached. Please just dial 911.”
Rogelio Chavez and Laron Campbell escaped with two other prisoners by cutting through the bars and rappelling to the ground. The others were quickly apprehended.
Chavez, 33, of San Jose and Campbell, 26, of Palo Alto are facing possible life sentences if convicted of the burglary, extortion, false imprisonment and other charges against them.
At one point in the search, police dogs picked up their scent but lost it near a river.
“We will find these two, and any person who is harboring or aiding and abetting in their escape we will attempt to prosecute,” Smith said.
She added that authorities haven’t found the tools used to cut through the bars and don’t know how they were obtained.
“That’s one of our big concerns,” the sheriff said. “To think that we have inmates in there with those kinds of tools is pretty disheartening.”
The four prisoners who escaped were being held in a dormitory designed to hold 20 people. Conditions there are often loud, Smith said, making it hard for guards to hear any suspicious noise.
The section of the jail was built in the 1950s and doesn’t have cameras.
“From the officers’ station you cannot see in,” she said, adding there are plans to install cameras.
The escape was discovered by a deputy patrolling the jail’s perimeter.
“He kind of thought he saw some movement in the shadows, looked up and saw some bedding in the window,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Rich Glennon said.
Chavez has a distinctive face tattoo resembling an inky gash going through his left eye. He was booked into the jail in August. Campbell, who stands 6-feet-4, had been jailed there since February 2015.
Glennon said deputies were being assisted by other local and federal law enforcement agencies.
A similar escape was made from a Southern California jail in January by three men authorities later determined had planned it for weeks.
They cut through the main Orange County jail’s fifth-floor bars with tools smuggled in by an outsider, rappelled to the ground and escaped in a get-away car.
They later abducted a cab driver and forced him to drive them to Northern California.
The escape began to unravel when one of the men, fearful the others would kill the driver, fled to Southern California with him and surrendered. The others were captured in San Francisco.
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