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San Clemente Man Pleads Not Guilty to Hotel Burglaries

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A San Clemente man was arraigned Wednesday in connection with a long string of hotel burglaries in South County and San Diego County over the last several months.

Although Dale Warren McMannes, 36, pleaded not guilty in Municipal Court in Laguna Niguel, police say he has confessed to more than 70 hotel break-ins in the area.

McMannes was charged with eight counts of felony burglary, three counts of receiving stolen property and one count each of possessing burglary tools and narcotics paraphernalia. He is being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, plus an additional $22,500 bail for probation violations.

Investigators from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the San Clemente Police Department searched McMannes’ home last week and found watches, video recorders and cameras, along with “hundreds and hundreds of hotel keys,” said Sheriff’s Department Lt. Robert Rivas.

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“You wouldn’t believe all the keys we discovered there . . . this guy could be the king of hotel burglars,” Rivas said.

McMannes is not accused of any violence during the break-ins, Rivas said, unlike three men recently charged with rape and assault while burglarizing several Disneyland-area hotels and motels.

“He would check to see if anyone was in,” Rivas said. “If someone was in, he would leave, and if they weren’t, he would rob the place.”

McMannes was arrested outside the Best Western Marina Inn in Dana Point on Aug. 20 by Mark Simon, an off-duty Sheriff’s Department investigator.

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Rivas said Simon, who had been investigating a series of hotel break-ins in the area, saw McMannes looking into several hotel windows at 9:15 p.m. on that date. Simon noted that McMannes fit the general description of the man being sought in the hotel burglaries and took him into custody, Rivas said.

Two Marina Inn employees have identified McMannes as the man they chased from a burglary attempt earlier this month, Rivas said.

While in jail, McMannes confessed to about 40 break-ins in San Clemente, about 20 in Dana Point and the rest in San Juan Capistrano and Carlsbad, Rivas said.

“We tend to believe him,” Rivas said. “We found items in his home that connect him to several of these burglaries. His story matches what we’ve found right on down the line.” Several credit cards reported stolen at area hotels were found in his possession, Rivas said. Also found in McMannes’ home were plastic cards typically used in burglaries, he said.

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McMannes is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court on Wednesday.


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