SERGEANT: 7-man burglary crew hit 2 SCV restaurants last month

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Members of a specialized burglary task force shut down a burglary crew with the arrest Sunday of six men and one juvenile in connection with restaurant burglaries, including one in Valencia and one in Newhall.

The suspects were identified as being convicted felons or documented gang members.

“This is an emerging crime trend,” Sgt. Michael Maher of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Major Crimes Bureau Burglary-Robbery Task Force told The Signal Tuesday.

He described the trend as burglars smashing the glass of restaurants in the dead of night and stealing what they can.

The suspected Burglary crew hit two Santa Clarita restaurants in the early morning hours of March 16.

The first place they hit was The Habit Burger Grill restaurant on McBean Parkway, at Arroyo Park Drive, inside Granary Square at 3:50 a.m., Maher said.

An hour later, he said, the same crew hit the El Trocadero Steak House restaurant on Main Street, at Market Street, in Newhall.

“At that location, we had a witness who believes they saw a silver SUV leaving the area,” Maher said, noting a vehicle matching the same description matched the one seen at a restaurant burglary in Santa Barbara.

Two and half hours after the robbery at El Trocadero, the same crew hit The Habit restaurant on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.

“We’re confident these guys (suspects) are responsible for several restaurant burglaries, probably dozens and dozens,” Maher said.

The arrests were made in the early hours of Sunday morning when investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Major Crimes Bureau Burglary-Robbery Task Forces arrested seven suspects following two commercial burglaries they had committed in the city of Santa Barbara.

With the help of the Santa Barbara Police Department, two vehicles were stopped south of Carpinteria where all seven suspects were detained without incident, according to a social media report posted Tuesday by the LASD.

Investigators recovered burglary tools including crowbar, gloves, headlamps, bolt cutters and cash stolen form the locations inside the suspect’s vehicles, the report reads.

In November 2016, the same task force began investigating a series of similar restaurant late night and pre-dawn burglaries.

In this burglary spree, the suspects were forcing entry into the locations via the front doors and windows of restaurants and fast food establishments throughout Los Angeles County, according to the LASD report.

They often stole cash drawers and safes from within the closed businesses. The crimes covered areas throughout Los Angeles and surrounding counties.

In recent weeks, task force investigators worked closely with detectives from Los Angeles Police Department officers with the North Hollywood Division and identified a possible suspect vehicle.

That vehicle was the same one seen leaving the vicinity of restaurants which were burglarized in both the Santa Clarita and North Hollywood area, LASD report writers said.

The information led LASD Detectives to a location in Long Beach that had been previously suspected of involvement in a prior ongoing retail/commercial burglary investigation.

The vehicle suspected in the crimes – a silver Saturn VUE SUV – led detectives to Santa Barbara early Sunday morning, where they observed a second vehicle, a red Jaguar sedan, driving in tandem.

Each of the adult suspects are being held in Santa Barbara Jail in lieu of $120,000 bail and scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Suspects arrested on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and charged with the “criminal street terrorism act” as it is alleged by the LASD they were all active Los Angeles area gang members, include:

– a 27-year-old a convicted felon, who had an outstanding narcotics warrant for his arrest out of Orange County, and has a previous arrest history including theft, narcotics violations, forgery, and battery.

– a 25-year-old documented gang member, with a “significant arrest history” that includes domestic violence, criminal firearm possession, and battery.

– a 21-year-old documented gang member, with an arrest history of burglary, narcotics violations, and assault.

– a 20-year-old convicted felon, with a criminal history including burglary and possession of stolen property.

– a 20-year-old convicted felon and documented gang member, with a criminal history including burglary, illegal firearm possession, narcotics violations, and robbery.

– a 27-year-old convicted felon and currently on parole for robbery, who had, according to the LASD, an extensive criminal history to include illegal firearm possession, narcotics violations, vehicle theft, and parole violations.

The juvenile subject was detained and was on active juvenile probation for burglary violations.

LASD Detectives assigned to the MCB Burglary Robbery Task Force are working closely with Santa Barbara Police Detectives as well as other Southern California law enforcement agencies in an attempt to connect this burglary crew to several similar burglaries that were committed throughout the Southland in recent months.

While this “crew” is likely responsible for several dozen burglaries, investigators believe there may be other like-minded “crews” also committing similar crimes.

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