A Highland woman has been charged with breaking into the home of her recently deceased neighbor and stealing more than $30,000 worth of possessions.
The suspect's 12-year-old daughter allegedly helped commit the crimes, which resulted in charges of burglary and possession of stolen property.
Perla Alba, a 34-year-old Highland resident, allegedly stole family heirlooms, jewelry, crystal, artwork, antiques and personal items belonging to the family of Joanie Eckland, who was found dead in her home March 8, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Alba, who lived next door to Eckland in the 28900 block of Elder Creek Lane in East Highland, allegedly broke into Eckland’s empty home multiple times in the weeks following Eckland’s death, said Sgt. Maggie Finneran of the Highland Police Department.
On at least two occasions, Alba’s 12-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old friend allegedly accompanied Alba, who advised the girls to “never tell anyone what they had done,” according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department press release.
However, the 12-year-old friend of Alba’s daughter contacted the police and told police she had participated in breaking into Eckland’s home, Finneran said.
“She was basically just spending the night at the girlfriend’s house, and that was just one of their activities,” Finneran said. “When she realized ‘this isn’t right,’ she came forward with information.”
Eckland’s family filed a report with police on March 28 claiming that more than $30,000 worth of Eckland’s belongings were missing from the home.
“The sad thing is that the juvenile who talked to us described very certain items, and I when I talked to the victims, they described those exact items,” Finneran said. “I know [Alba] took them.”
After obtaining a search warrant, police searched Alba’s home and found some of Eckland’s missing belongings, but many of the expensive items are still missing, Finneran said. Police have also recovered some items from friends and family members of Alba, who said Alba secretly hid items in their homes, according to police.
Finneran said police believe some of the items had been or were going to be sold at pawn shops or cash-for-gold businesses.
Alba and 42-year-old Janos Farkas, who lived with Alba, were arrested on March 29 and booked at the West Valley Detention Center for burglary and possession of stolen property. Alba and Farkas could also face charges of child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Alba’s 12-year-old daughter has not been arrested, but will also be charged for burglary and possession of stolen property, Finneran said.
If anyone has information about this case or the missing items, contact the Highland Police Department at 909-425-9793 or email Finneran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“My case is solid, and I’d really just like to see the victims get back some of their family heirlooms,” Finneran said.