O.C. authorities announce crackdown on burglary ring

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes speaks during a media briefing.
O.C. Sheriff Don Barnes, shown above in this file photo, and Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer announced this week there had been a crackdown on a large burglary ring. Law enforcement recovered seven guns, multiple high-capacity magazines and $40,000 in cash, jewelry and handbags, Barnes said.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes and Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer on Thursday issued a stern warning to thieves targeting Orange County as they discussed details of a crackdown on a burglary ring they say was responsible for nearly three dozen break-ins.

Nine suspects were rounded up in a sweep on Wednesday, with law enforcement still seeking 11 more suspects. Prosecutors have charged 20, including five juveniles, in connection with a burglary ring tied to 34 break-ins across the county, with an estimated loss of about $500,000 in cash, weapons and valuables.

Barnes told reporters it was the result of “months of hard work,” starting in September when authorities began working a case involving three residential burglaries, two in unincorporated Santa Ana and one in Yorba Linda. That prompted a team of investigators to work on building a bigger case, Barnes said.


Fullerton police have been investigating 19 burglaries, with the rest being handled by sheriff’s deputies, Barnes said.

The 20 defendants have ties to Los Angeles-based gangs, Barnes and Spitzer said.

The thieves are “organized” and utilize sophisticated methods involving monitoring social media messages to see who is out of town, surveillance of affluent homes to get patterns of coming and going of residents and even breaking in through a second-floor balcony to avoid security system motion detectors, Barnes said.

Spitzer said the gangs are recruiting juveniles to help with the heists because they tend to face lesser punishment from the system because of their age.

During the sweep this week, law enforcement recovered seven guns, two of which were stolen, multiple high-capacity magazines and $40,000 in cash, jewelry and handbags, Barnes said.

He said he hopes residents “can sleep a little better” knowing the thieves were arrested.

“To the criminals associated with these crews, we will find you, we will arrest you,” Barnes said. “And you will do your time in Orange County ... You’re not going to get out next week.”

The sheriff reminded residents to make sure they lock all their doors and windows, consider padlocking side gates, which are popular points of entry for thieves, and ensuring their homes are well lit. He added that putting lights on a timer and installing a security system with cameras will also help steer thieves away.

Spitzer said Orange County was “different than other counties in California,” in that law enforcement “cares deeply about victims’’ and will push for stiffer punishments of defendants.

“We still believe that people should go to state prison when appropriate,” Spitzer said.

As he has in the past, Spitzer criticized efforts to reduce jail and prison overcrowding. Spitzer said his office understands extending some mercy to first-time offenders, but he wants to crack down on recidivists.

“If you’re going to commit crimes in Orange County, you’ve got to know we’ll handle it differently here,” Spitzer said.

“We believe in some reforms,” Spitzer said. “But when it comes to hardcore crimes, we’re putting our feet down.”

Spitzer said the burglary ring is a “dangerous, prolific crew.”

The defendants charged in the ring include:

  • Deautri Hamilton, 30, of Los Angeles;
  • Jesus Alberto Guerra, 29, of Los Angeles;
  • Javier Guerrero, 31, of Los Angeles;
  • Michael Jason Serrano, 21, of Los Angeles;
  • Tyrell Benyon Haley, 23, of Compton;
  • Michael Jason Serrano, 21, of Los Angeles;
  • Nathaniel Eric Roberts, 25, of Los Angeles;
  • Jeris Je Young Abalos, 34, of Los Angeles;
  • Tahj Kamare Richardson, 21, of Los Angeles;
  • Keven Von Claudell Holland, 35, of Los Angeles;
  • Kadin Isaiah Williams, 22, of Lakewood;
  • Jamari Nijie Devon Manning, 19, of Los Angeles;
  • Quaion Jayvion McClenton, 23, of Compton;
  • Deion Robert Franklin, 19, of Los Angeles;
  • Mika Mark McGee, 20, of Compton and;
  • Joshua Jeremiah Rivas, 20, of Los Angeles.