Two held in connection with rash of burglaries

Newport Beach police have arrested two men who could be tied to more than 20 residential burglaries in the city and neighboring Huntington Beach, authorities said Tuesday.

The arrests, a Newport Beach Police Department news release said, came after a Dover Shores resident reported seeing the driver of a white Jeep Rubicon on Saturday stop outside her home, write something on a piece of paper and drive away.

The woman took a cell phone picture of the Jeep, which she recalled matching a description NBPD Det. Tracy McKenzie had posted earlier that week on neighborhood social network, according to the release.

In the notice, McKenzie warned residents that Huntington Beach police were looking for the Jeep because they believed it was tied to a string of residential burglaries over the past couple months, officials said.

On Saturday, shortly after the woman reported seeing the car, Newport Beach police tracked it down on Santiago Drive.

Officers arrested the Jeep's driver on suspicion of possessing stolen property and the passenger on suspicion of burglary and possessing burglary tools, according to the release.

Both men, who were wanted on outstanding warrants for crimes unrelated to the recent burglaries, were then handed over to the custody of Huntington Beach police, officials said.

Newport Beach officers are continuing to help Huntington Beach police with their investigation, according to the release.

Police are not yet releasing the suspects' names because it could compromise those efforts, said HBPD spokesman Lt. Mitch O'Brien.

"We hopefully will do that soon," he said. "We need to make sure we identify as much stolen property as we can."

O'Brien said he couldn't speculate about exactly how many Huntington Beach burglaries the pair may have been involved in, but "right now, we're suspecting multiple."

Newport police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella wrote in an email that officials are "pleased" that investigators were able to effectively use social media in the case.

"Often, communication is the key to breaking a case," she wrote. "Our department regularly uses Nixle, Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information, and we encourage all members of the community to connect with us through those services."

Still, she wrote, the best way to get in touch with police is by phone, calling 911 in emergencies or (949) -644-3717 for non-emergencies.

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