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Man Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years for Looting Homes During San Diego County Wildfire

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A raging brush fire destroyed numerous homes in the Alpine area on July 6, 2018. (Credit: KSWB)

A raging brush fire destroyed numerous homes in the Alpine area on July 6, 2018. (Credit: KSWB)

A man who looted vacated homes during a wildfire in eastern San Diego County has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

Ardian Iseni was sentenced Friday for targeting homes that were vacated during a July wildfire in Alpine. Dubbed the West Fire, the blaze destroyed 34 homes and 21 other buildings after breaking out on July 6.

Iseni was on probation for burglary when he was spotted, chased and captured by residents. He was carrying stolen jewelry and burglary tools.

Two days after the fire broke out, a resident posted to the Alpine Community Network website that she caught a looter carrying a tote bag with jewelry inside, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“I caught him entering a home but got him BEFORE he got in. He had just opened the door. So the jewelry is from other homes in our area,” the unknown resident wrote.

Deputy District Attorney Shane Waller told the Union-Tribune that a neighbor saw Iseni looking into the window of a home and jiggling the doorknob while carrying a purse.

At some point, other people who lived in the neighborhood rushed over and managed to detain him before he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies, the Union-Tribune reported.

Along with jewelry and costume pieces, the purse contained Navy campaign medals and dog tags owned by the victim’s husband from his three tours of duty in Vietnam, Waller told the Union-Tribune.

This story includes reporting from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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