GLENDALE — Police said Friday that a group of teens and young men who were arrested two weeks ago were behind the rash of vehicle burglaries in the La Crescenta earlier this year, the spoils going to support their drug habits.
The burglaries started occurring after the alleged culprits were released from jail camps, Glendale Police Det. Mauricio Barba said. The group called themselves the 211 crew — the number signifying the penal code designation for robbery, although none of crew members are suspected of the more serious crime.
At least 20 vehicle burglaries were reported in the La Crescenta area since the beginning of this year.
Many of the members were addicted to heroin, so Barba said they likely committed the burglaries to support their drug habits.
The crew, which police said was established two to three years ago, is alleged to be responsible for a wave of crime, including graffiti and heroin sales, in La Crescenta nearly 18 months ago.
Barba worked with the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station to identify and create a roster of the crew’s 12 members.
At the time, the Police Department, along with the sheriff’s station, dedicated police officers to the area, and they were able to slowly break down the ring.
One crew member told police he was responsible for burglarizing nearly 100 vehicles, Barba said.
Since most of the crew members who were arrested are teens, they were sentenced to serve time at a jail camp, he said. As they trickled back out of the camps, many returned to La Crescenta.
“I kept my eyes close on them,” Barba said.
Police then noticed that crime in the area began to rise, including auto burglaries and drug sales, Glendale Police Lt. Todd Anderson said.
“We’re not letting it go unnoticed,” he said.
The department’s Special Enforcement Detail arrested 24 people between April 16 and May 1. Of the 24 arrests, 11 were felonies, including burglary and possessing heroin and weapons, police said.
Among the arrests were 19-year-old Glendale residents Jeffrey Morquecho and Alvin Chin, 19-year-old Jason Lamb of La Crescenta, and 19-year-old Montrose residents Chang Chaunghyuk and Tae Yeon Kim.
All of them were arrested on drug-related charges.
A man, whose name was not released, was arrested after police found more than 60 ecstasy pills in his possession, Anderson said.
Crime in the area has since calmed, but Anderson said police are still patrolling the area.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at email@example.com.