Suspected thieves are arrested

GLENDALE — Three boys were arrested Sunday after allegedly breaking into a home and stealing electronics while a 25-year-old Los Angeles man acted as a lookout for the boys, officials said.

Anthony Leslie was taken into custody — along with a 12-year-old boy and two 14-year-old boys — on suspicion of burglary, Glendale Police Sgt. Vahak Mardikian said.

A resident in the 500 block of California Avenue saw a man about 1 p.m. Sunday looking around and acting suspiciously, Mardikian said. He then saw three boys jump over his neighbor’s backyard fence, and decided to call police, Mardikian said.

Inside the home, the boys grabbed valuables, including a laptop, Nintendo video games, an iPod and skateboard, he said.

Police got to the home and searched the neighborhood, Mardikian said. About 40 minutes later, police found Leslie and the boys and took them into custody. The boys, whose names weren’t released because they are minors, are being held in juvenile custody.

Police recovered all of the stolen property.

Police are seeing more of this setup, in which teens are committing burglaries, thefts or shoplifting for adults because the adults don’t want to get caught, Mardikian said.

“We found that is becoming more common,” he said.

Teens generally face a lesser punishment in the juvenile court system if they get caught than an adult would face in superior court, Mardikian said.

“The adults keep their hands clean from the actual crime,” he said. “[Teens] are turning in the loot to the adults.”

Overall theft, shoplifting and burglary has been increasing this year, and more theft-related crimes are being committed by teens under 18, Mardikian said.

Burglaries increased from 518 reported between January and October 2007 to 550 for the same time this year, and petty thefts for that time frame jumped from 1,048 to 1,311, according to the latest Glendale Police Department crime statistics. Overall property crimes have also increased from 3,092 reported between January and October 2007 to 3,345 this year, according to department statistics.

The spike in thefts can be attributed to the state’s downward economy, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said.

Teens tend to commit thefts when their parents aren’t giving them money or buying them items, he said.

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