Social media helped lead police to a violent Southern California gang that had stolen more than $1 million worth of gold, jewelry and cash, officials said Wednesday.
The nine-member group based out of Long Beach burglarized dozens of homes in cities across California and Nevada, including Camarillo, Oak Park, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks (map), according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
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"They're known for murders, takeover robberies, extortions, drive-by shootings," Ventura County Sheriff's Detective Victor Medina said.
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The group often targeted the Indian community, and they used prepaid phones to call victims to make sure no one was home, officials said.
"A number of individuals in our community do keep jewelry, specifically gold jewelry, at home because we wear them at religious and cultural festivals, said Manjusha Kulkarni of Southern California's South Asian Network.
The thieves were cautious when stealing the items, but weren't afraid to post photos of the stolen loot on social media, officials said.
"I don't recall any DNA being found, any fingerprints being found," said Gary Pentis with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. "They were obviously gloved up, they were cautious."
Investigators found online photos of the suspects showing off the cash and Rolex watches they had taken from homes, which helped police catch the group.
Because residents responded quickly when they heard about burglaries in their area, thieves left empty-handed in several break-ins.
"Proper safes were used that were weighted or bolted to the floor, bank safety deposit boxes were used, valuables weren't in the home," Pentis said.