Burglars bob for Apples
by Andrea Ruse
Apple store customers in the Manhattan Village Mall have recently been targeted in a string of vehicle burglaries that stretches across three counties.
“We think customers are being surveilled while they buy computers, put them in their cars, and drive to the next retail store or their homes,” Manhattan Beach Police Detective Sgt. Brian Brown said. “When they come out, their cars are broken into and the computers are stolen.”
Eighteen incidents have been reported to the Manhattan Beach Police since Sept. 15. The most recent Manhattan Beach burglary occurred Jan. 3, according to Brown.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are collaborating on an investigation into 80 to 100 total incidents reported throughout L.A., Orange, and Ventura Counties over the past several months, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
Authorities believe a large, organized group is behind the thefts.
“There are always opportunists like this at Christmas, but this is something new.” Amormino said. “There’s probably a ring of them.”
Three arrests were made at a Mission Viejo Mall on Dec. 29 during a sting conducted by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in what Brown called “part of a regional effort to deal with this problem.”
The profiles and method of operation used by the suspects were similar to those of the thefts that occurred in Manhattan Beach, according to Amormino.
“Clearly this has continued since then,” Brown said.
Amormino said that no property has been recovered so far.
“They probably shipped it out of the country,” he said. “Obviously, they have a buyer for the computers.”
Brown said that some victims were followed for a short distance and others several miles into other cities.
“This is a highly preventable crime if people would not leave their freshly-purchased, multi-thousand dollar computers in their cars,” Brown said. ER