Two charged in 22 car burglaries

GLENDALE — Two men were charged Thursday with breaking into 22 vehicles in north and south Glendale to sell the stolen items on the black market, police said.

Juan Alfaro, 25, and Amelcar Sanchez, 24, were charged with eight counts of burglary each for breaking into vehicles early Tuesday in the Adams Hill District, Glendale Police Sgt. Vahak Mardikian said.

Sanchez was charged with an additional 14 counts of burglary for vehicle break-ins Nov. 3 and 4 in northwest Glendale, he said.

Sanchez may also be charged with up to 60 more burglaries in Santa Monica, where his fingerprints match those left at the crime scenes, police said. Glendale police arrested the pair about 2:14 a.m. Tuesday on the 1100 block of East Palmer Avenue after they received a tip from a resident who saw the pair looking into car windows with flashlights, Mardikian said.

“All we needed was that one phone call, and we are fortunate enough that patrol was in the area, and they immediately apprehended the suspects,” Mardikian said.

Police arrested Sanchez at Oakridge Drive and Vista Court. Alfaro was arrested on the 1200 block of Oakridge Drive after police saw him lying in the grass. He told police he was jogging and stopped to do sit-ups, Mardikian said.

“They were caught by surprise,” he said. “They didn’t realize the police were called.”

They allegedly had some of the stolen items.

Sanchez gave police the fake name of Juan Benavides when they booked him into the city jail, Mardikian said. He also had broken window pieces under his nails, Mardikian said.

He confessed that he and his crew of professional thieves burglarized the vehicles, but Alfaro didn’t admit to a crime, Mardikian said.

“Basically their MO is that they break car windows with sparkplug chips and they take any valuable items, especially ones that they see in plain sight,” he said.

After they steal items such as laptops, iPods or navigation systems, they sell them to a buyer, Mardikian said.

Police returned several stolen items to vehicle owners, he said. But police haven’t been able to recover stolen property in the northwest Glendale burglaries, which Mardikian said were likely already sold.

Crime comes and goes in the Adams Hill district, said Chris Welch, president of the local neighborhood association.

“There has always been a little bit of something,” he said.

The group created a message board on its website for residents to report crime and other concerns in the neighborhood, Welch said.

One resident, he said, reported at least three vehicle burglaries Tuesday on Tyler Street.

The association has also been trying to persuade residents to get involved in neighborhood watch groups.

“There have been various times in the past where there have been some small spikes in activity, so it always prompts us to try to energize things,” Welch said.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who lives in the same northwest Glendale neighborhood where many of the burglaries occurred, said she and other residents have exchanged e-mails about the incidents. She has also fielded questions from residents concerned about the burglaries.

“I am very glad to live in a city where the police actively investigate these kinds of crimes,” Friedman said.

In other cities, such as Los Angeles, police often will only take a report of a vehicle burglary, she said.

“But in Glendale they really want to catch the bad guy, and I think we can all be proud of the Glendale Police Department,” Friedman said.

Federal immigration authorities have placed Alfaro, an El Salvador native, and Sanchez, of Mexico, on a custody hold pending the outcome of their cases here.

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