Two people recently charged with burglarizing homes being shown during open houses in Huntington Beach may be connected to similar offenses in other Orange County cities, including Laguna Beach, authorities said Wednesday.
Laguna Beach police said they believe that Whittier residents Sara Neal, 28, and Richard Maloney, 29, who were arrested June 19 in Huntington Beach, are responsible for burglaries in their area.
According to police, Neal admitted to crimes in Laguna Beach during interviews with detectives Tuesday at Orange County Jail, though Maloney was “vague about his involvement.”
As of late Wednesday afternoon, the pair had not been charged with burglaries in Laguna.
Neal and Maloney are suspected of being involved in at least seven residential burglaries targeting open houses throughout the state, including as far away as San Francisco, according to Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach police.
Maloney pleaded not guilty Friday to one felony count of first-degree burglary and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime in connection with a March 10 incident in Huntington Beach, while Neal pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of first-degree burglary, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance.
Neal is charged with the March burglary as well as one April 16, according to court records.
The Laguna Beach Police Department said it received reports of thefts at three residences that hosted open houses May 26.
A man and a woman posing as potential homebuyers visited the properties, and the man would distract the real estate agents while the woman went from room to room and stole items, according to police.
Witnesses and surveillance videos helped officers focus on Neal and Maloney as suspects, authorities said.
Huntington Beach police suspect the defendants are tied to four reported burglaries from open houses since early March, the most recent on May 19.
Police in Orange, Brea and Irvine also are investigating whether Neal and Maloney are linked to similar cases in their cities, Huntington Beach police said.
Neal and Maloney were booked into Orange County Jail with bail set at $110,000 and $50,000, respectively, according to jail records. Both are scheduled to appear in court Monday.