City News Service

Man Arrested in Connection With Car Break-Ins Along the Beach in the South Bay

A man accused of burglarizing vehicles parked in Manhattan Beach lots was arrested by officers who staked out the locations, police said Wednesday.

Jose Vega-Contreras, 34, of Wilmington, was arrested Saturday by officers who were watching the El Porto beach parking lot at 4499 The Strand, Manhattan Beach police Sgt. Tim Zins said.

Vega-Contreras was booked on suspicion of vehicle burglary, receiving stolen property and identity theft, and was released pending court proceedings, Zins said.

Manhattan Beach Police / KNBC-TV
Jose Vega-Contreras, 34, of Wilmington, was arrested Saturday by officers who were watching the El Porto beach parking lot at 4499 The Strand, Manhattan Beach police Sgt. Tim Zins said.

Five vehicle burglaries occurred in February and March in the El Porto parking lot and the Manhattan Beach Pier parking lot at 1 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Zins said.

"In all of these cases, the suspect stole keys which were either left on a beach towel, on the tire, or hidden somewhere on a parked vehicle," Zins said.

He said Vega-Contreras stole items including wallets and credit cards, then used the stolen cards to make purchases throughout the South Bay.

Manhattan Beach detectives obtained surveillance images of a possible suspect who used the stolen credit cards and began watching the parking lots, eventually spotting the person matching the description of the subject seen on the security video, Zins said.

Detectives believe Vega-Contreras may have committed other similar crimes, and urged other possible victims to contact police at (310) 802-5134.

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