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$20K Worth of Stolen Tools, Equipment Found in Mission Viejo Homeless Encampment; 2 Men Arrested

Tools stolen from Capistrano Unified School District are seen at the Mission Veijo homeless encampment in a photo released on Oct. 12, 2018, by O.C. Sheriff Department.

Tools stolen from Capistrano Unified School District are seen at the Mission Veijo homeless encampment in a photo released on Oct. 12, 2018, by O.C. Sheriff Department.

Orange County deputies arrested two men on suspicion of stealing $20,000 worth of tools and equipment found stashed in a Mission Viejo homeless encampment, officials said Friday.

Joseph Eberhardt, 40, and Randall Prince, 58, who were living at the encampment, are being held without bail at the Orange County Jail, the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. Inmate records show they were taken into custody Oct. 3.

The items stolen included drills, hammers, levels, socket wrenches, amongst other equipment. Several of the items found were found with labels from the Capistrano Unified School District, officials said.

The district filed a report in August about multiple of their utility vans being burglarized.

On Oct. 3, deputies contacted Eberhardt and Prince, who they said were living in an encampment near Avery Parkway and Camino Capistrano.

The deputies said both men were in violation of their probation with outstanding warrants.

Sheriff’s personnel performed a final walkthrough on Tuesday and Thursday with representatives from the school district to make sure all the potentially stolen items were collected.

An estimated $8,000 worth of tools and equipment were recovered and returned to the school district, officials said.

The school’s chief communication officer, Ryan Burris, said the school district is grateful for the Sheriff’s Department’s service.

“The return of these valuable tools was a surprise and just one example of the incredible work they perform every day to keep our students, families, schools, and communities safe,” Burris said.

Chief of Police Services in Mission Viejo Lt. Quyen Vuong said the department’s South Homeless Outreach Team proactively engages with homeless people to connect them to community resources.

“We have to balance outreach with enforcement and these arrests point to the team’s valuable role in keeping our community safe,” Vuong said.