SAFFORD — It has been said that absence of local resources can lead substance abusers to relapse after rehabilitation — and a January arrest appeared to bear that out.
A Safford man arrested in connection with reported vehicle break-ins allegedly told police seven months of rehab came undone after he returned to town last year, that he fell back into drug use about two months before his arrest.
On Jan. 3, Safford Police responded to a suspicious activity call in the Safford High School parking lot. A male subject reportedly opened a student’s vehicle and began rifling through it. The subject reportedly told a witness he was looking for money a relative owed him, then walked away as the witness approached. The subject headed toward Walmart at a run, and officers could not locate him.
Police learned the vehicle was unlocked, with the keys inside. It was undamaged and nothing was missing from it. High school security cameras captured several photos of the subject, but his identity remained unknown.
On Jan. 5, a Safford officer was advised of a backpack left on the sidewalk north of the David M. Player Center for the Arts. The pack reportedly contained a Versaflo respiratory system valued at over $1,000, but no clues to its owner. The officer subsequently learned vehicles at the high school were broken into that weekend, and was sent still photos of a suspect.
The officer believed the suspect was 46-year-old Geoffrey Klajda, whom he knew through past contacts, and a second officer agreed after seeing a photo. On Jan. 6, the officer learned of the Jan. 3 incident and requested surveillance video.
Further search of the backpack yielded a clue to a possible owner. According to a police report, the backpack was traced to a deceased Safford resident whose spouse advised it was left in the resident’s vehicle. The vehicle’s doors were reportedly found ajar. The resident’s spouse said someone had gone through it, and the backpack was missing.
The officer recovered partial fingerprints from the vehicle and sent them, along with a pair of sunglasses bearing a print, to the DPS crime lab.
According to a police report, surveillance cameras recorded the male subject believed to be Klajda walking west on 8th Street, then south on 14th Avenue. Other cameras reportedly recorded him entering the high school parking lot and checking vehicles; however, there was no video of anyone leaving the backpack where it was found.
On Jan. 8, Klajda was taken into custody regarding the Jan. 3 incident. He allegedly admitted involvement, saying he entered two or three vehicles to steal change. He also allegedly confessed to taking the backpack, saying he dropped it and ran when a police vehicle approached. Klajda reportedly said the driver’s door of the vehicle with the backpack was unlocked and he had unlocked the rear door, adding that he did not look inside the backpack before dropping it.
A substance that tested positive for heroin was reportedly found in Klajda’s possession, along with two methamphetamine pipes, other drug paraphernalia and some unidentified pills. Klajda reportedly said the pills were Suboxone, but police were unable to confirm this. Klajda reportedly made the statement about his rehabilitation during a police interview.
Klajda was booked into the Graham County Jail for burglary and theft, with charges of narcotic drug possession and drug paraphernalia possession pending review.