Five men who allegedly belong to a coast-to-coast commercial burglary ring active in at least five states were in custody today after a series of operations involving five Southland law enforcement departments.
Three of them were arrested in Montebello early Tuesday following a 4-month-long investigation by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Area Property Crimes Unit into a series of burglaries, an LAPD statement said.
The crew's method of operation was to hit shopping malls during off hours and burglarize targeted jewelers, police said.
The alleged crew taken down Tuesday is believed to have robbed dozens of jewelry stores across Southern California and elsewhere, Newcomb said. They pulled off at least 10 smash-and-grab robberies in Los Angeles, Glendale and Orange County, KCAL 9 reported.
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"They enter the store, they find the product they are looking for, typically in glass display cases ... and they smash the case. They sweep the material, whatever the items are, into whatever containers they're using at the time, and they're off," Angelos, the LAPD lieutenant, said.
"Information was developed through our detectives that the Montebello mall might be the subject of a burglary ... (and) contacted the Montebello Police Department, who rolled all their resources out here," LAPD Lt. George Angelos said.
"They were Johnny-on-the-spot, and, in fact, detained and arrested three individuals." Angelos said.
Montebello police Capt. Ralph Newcomb said the arrests were made about 5 a.m. when officers caught three suspects in a vehicle outside the mall in the 2100 block of Montebello Town Center Drive. It was closed at the time, but there were a few employees inside.
As officers were taking the three men into custody, other Montebello officers and members of the Monterey Park police tactical team searched the area for additional suspects, according to the LAPD statement. None were found.
But as a result of the three arrests, LAPD detectives assisted by the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Glendale and Santa Ana police departments served six search warrants at various locations, resulting in the arrests of two more suspects, the LAPD said. Additional items of evidence were recovered.
All five suspects, who range in age from the mid 20s to mid 40s, were placed in LAPD custody on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, police said. Their names were not immediately released.
Anyone with information on the burglaries was asked to call LAPD Detective John Simmons at (213) 972-7813, or the 24-hour toll free number 1-877-LAPD-24-7 after hours or on weekends.