A Capitola man was sentenced on Feb. 3 to six months in jail for making threatening phone calls to several UCSF animal researchers. Justin Bhagat Thind, 33, repeatedly calling researchers at homes in Marin and San Mateo County in 2007 and making "vile threats," such as telling researchers they would “die the same way they made the animals suffer,” according the UCSF Police Department. UCSF Police Department detectives conducted a six-month investigation resulting in several search warrants being served and critical evidence recovered. In May 2008, a $100,000 warrant was issued for the arrest of Thind, who surrendered to authorities in June 2008. Thind pled no contest in December 2008 to a felony charge of threatening a government employee and a misdemeanor charge of making a threatening phone call. In February 2009, Thind was convicted of the charges in San Mateo County and faces similar charges in Marin County for allegedly harassing other UCSF researchers. At a hearing Monday, Judge Clifford Cretan allowed Thind to surrender on May 2, 2009 to begin serving his six-month jail sentence. The judge also placed Thind on three years' probation and ordered him not to be a member of any animal-rights groups. The success of Thind’s conviction was a result of the teamwork and collaboration between the UCSF Police, UCSF animal researchers, FBI, UCLA Police Department, Capitola Police Department and San Mateo and Marin County District Attorney’s Office.
Researcher Personal Protection Strategies:
- Ensure all laboratory work areas are appropriately secured and locked down before leaving the area.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Contact the Police Department regarding any suspicious persons or activities near your residence or workplace.
- Never open your residential or office door without knowing who is on the other side.
- If someone comes to your home or office stating that he/she is a police officer, utility company worker, etc., ask to see identification. If you are unsure, call the agency that they represent and verify their identity.
- Ensure all animal care areas are locked down.
- Do not touch any suspicious packages and report them immediately to the UCSF Police at 9-911, while on campus or your local law enforcement agency, if at home.
- Immediately report all suspicious inquiries about animal research or inquiries about locations of research facilities to the UCSF Police.
- Immediately report suspicious people loitering around animal care facilities and/or taking photographs of the area, to the UCSF Police.
- Immediately report graffiti or vandalism that may be directed at animal-research to the UCSF Police.
- Report all suspicious activities and persons to the Police Department.