Safes, cash, pricey watches and jewelry — police documents reveal items stolen in rash of Newport Beach home burglaries
On a Saturday in October, a Newport Beach woman getting ready to head out of town locked up her Balboa Island home and left it in the care of a housekeeper.
A few days later, on Oct. 17, the woman, Vicki Stump, received a frantic call from the housekeeper, who told her there had been a break-in, Stump said in court this month.
The Newport Beach Police Department responded to the home on Emerald Avenue and determined that someone had climbed onto the tile roof and entered through the door of a second-floor balcony, removed a safe from the master bedroom and left through the garage, according to a search warrant affidavit police filed in Orange County Superior Court.
The burglar stole about $75,000 in jewelry, including a Chopard Happy Diamonds ring worth nearly $4,500, according to the affidavit.
“The skylight was shattered and the deck’s door damaged,” Stump told Superior Court Judge Karen Robinson in a victim impact statement.
Police documented shoe prints on the roof matching size-12 Converse All Stars, according to the affidavit.
“I took reasonable precaution to secure the home before I left,” Stump said in court. “This was not a burglary of opportunity.”
Stump was one of several residents who delivered victim impact statements before Robinson on May 13 at a hearing in a criminal case against Aquinas “Quinn” Kasbar, 19, of Newport Beach.
Kasbar faces 29 felony and three misdemeanor counts in connection with a string of residential burglaries that hit Balboa Island and Corona del Mar last year. Among the items reported stolen were safes, cash, high-end watches and fine jewelry.
Kasbar pleaded not guilty April 23 to the latest in a series of amended charges, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. He pleaded not guilty to initial charges Dec. 4.
Kasbar’s lawyer, Brian Gurwitz, declined to comment Friday on the contents of the search warrant affidavit.
On Nov. 28, police got a hit from a Costa Mesa pawn shop on the serial number for Stump’s stolen ring, Newport Beach police Det. Brian Schlottach wrote in a probable cause statement filed with the affidavit.
The ring had been pawned at the Newport Boulevard shop two weeks earlier, the statement said.
The detective confirmed that the ring matched the description of the stolen jewelry and, in fact, had the serial number inscribed inside the band, he wrote.
Pawn shop records traced the sale to Kasbar and a Balboa Island address belonging to his parents, according to the affidavit. Surveillance cameras provided an image of Kasbar in the shop Nov. 14, the affidavit said. He had arrived and left in a white Chevrolet Avalanche.
Pawn shop records indicated he pawned two items, including the ring, police said. The other item was not identified.
Schlottach ran the name “Kasbar” through the state’s pawn dealer database and found that other transactions had been made at a shop in Hawaiian Gardens, where a dealer paid $52,000 for two loose diamonds, according to the affidavit. The seller identified himself as Maximillian Kasbar and provided a different Balboa Island address. Police determined that fingerprints associated with the Hawaiian Gardens shop belonged to Quinn Kasbar.
Even before the Costa Mesa pawn shop hit linked Kasbar to the stolen Happy Diamonds ring, the Kasbar residence on Abalone Avenue on Balboa Island was being watched, police said. The affidavit is unclear as to why, and Newport Beach police officials did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday.
By Nov. 29, detectives also were keeping an eye on the second Balboa Island address, on Agate Avenue, which belonged to the family of Kasbar’s girlfriend, according to other court documents, including a signed declaration by the girlfriend’s father.
In front of the girlfriend’s home was a white Chevrolet Avalanche that matched the description of the vehicle captured on the pawn shop security cameras. The pickup was registered to the father of Kasbar’s girlfriend, police said.
Since the theft of the Happy Diamonds ring, police have documented size-12 Converse shoe prints associated with four other break-ins in Newport Beach, according to the affidavit.
A day after finding the ring, detectives were granted permission by Superior Court Judge Joy Markman to track the Avalanche via GPS, along with another vehicle Kasbar had been seen driving that also was registered to his girlfriend’s father, police said.
On Nov. 30, police tracked one of the vehicles to a scenic-view parking area on Newport Coast Drive.
According to the affidavit, Kasbar drove from the scenic spot to his girlfriend’s home, where detectives saw him throw a box in a trash can behind the house before driving around to the front and walking inside.
The box was for a Black & Decker wheel grinder, according to police, who fished it from the trash can.
Another detective went back to the Newport Coast parking lot and scoured the area until he found a Sentry safe in the bushes in a corner of the lot, Schlottach wrote.
The safe appeared to have been damaged with a wheel grinder, the detective wrote. Documents left inside the safe contained the owner’s name and address as well as white powder that resembled safe fire retardant, the affidavit said. The powder matched a substance seen in the truck’s bed, police said.
The safe’s owner was contacted and told police that the owner’s Newport Beach home had been broken into Nov. 29. The resident said passports, two Rolex watches and $4,000 in cash were among the items stolen after the burglar broke a side window to enter the house and took the safe from the master bedroom, according to the affidavit.
On Dec. 1, the affidavit said, police tracked Kasbar to a storage facility on Camelback Street in Newport Beach, where he spent about five minutes before leaving just before midnight. Police later confirmed that Kasbar was renting a unit at the location, the affidavit said.
Superior Court Judge Jeannie Joseph signed the warrant authorizing the search of the homes of Kasbar’s and his girlfriend’s parents, as well as the storage unit and two trucks registered to the father of Kasbar’s girlfriend.
Police said in court documents that they found a pair of Converse shoes at Kasbar’s parents’ home. At his girlfriend’s parents’ home, police said, they found bracelets, cuff links, watches and other jewelry, 9 mm bullets, a gun safe lock, a Cartier bag and the key fob to a Maserati.
At the storage unit, detectives reported finding items including 22 guitars, among them pieces by Gibson and Fender; nine John Varvatos jackets, including a snakeskin zip-up jacket, a red horsehair pea coat and some with sheepskin lining and collars; and four Birkin bags — two made of ostrich skin, one from crocodile and one from calf skin. Similar bags resell for more than $20,000 each, according to RealReal.
In one of the trucks, police said, detectives found burglary tools, a gold band with diamonds and three Louis Vuitton bags.
In each case, it’s unclear from the court documents whether the seized items were identified as stolen property.
Kasbar was arrested by Newport Beach police on Dec. 1. In February, seized property was exhibited to burglary victims.
On Monday, Kasbar agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge in the theft of a 32-year-old lemur during a break-in at the Santa Ana Zoo last summer. The lemur was taken after the zoo closed July 27 and was found early the next morning in a crate outside a Newport Beach hotel.
Santa Ana police said they had no leads in the case until Newport Beach police investigating the residential burglaries uncovered evidence connecting Kasbar to the lemur theft. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office because lemurs are an endangered species and stealing one is a federal offense. Kasbar is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday.
He is currently free on bail in the home burglaries case and is scheduled back in Superior Court on June 25, court records show.
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