Law enforcement agencies across Southern California are warning of a group of criminals believed to be responsible for a string of burglaries in several communities, including Thousand Oaks and Riverside.
“It just kind of struck…I have three guys in my backyard,” burglary victim James Fitzpatrick told KTLA’s Rick Chambers.
Fitzpatrick described the moment his home security system notified him at work Wednesday evening that his Thousand Oaks home was being burglarized. He watched on his phone as three thieves wearing masks broke in.
“They boosted one of the guys up to the second-floor window and I could hear them breaking the window,” he said.
When the burglars found they couldn’t get in the second-floor window, they turned their attention to the patio sliding door.
“They just kicked out the bottom of the door. They busted it out with something, and you could just hear the glass just shattering,” Fitzpatrick told KTLA.
The thieves likely climbed some 400 feet up from the Sunset Hills Golf Course to get into the house.
“They had so much mud on their shoes that they stepped on the broken glass. It was all over the house,” Fitzpatrick said. “There wasn’t a cabinet that wasn’t stripped, everything was on the floors.”
When the break-in happened, Fitzpatrick’s son, Sean, was at volleyball practice. He said he was more surprised by what the thieves didn’t take.
“My Mac was just sitting on the counter and they just went by it,” Sean said. “They went into my dad’s room, his Apple watch sitting on the bedside table, went right by it. There was a little cash jar I keep in the closet, they went right by it. It was kind of surprising.”
Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies captured all three thieves in the act and believe they are part of a Chilean gang, who may be responsible for two similar Riverside break-ins last month.
All three suspects had burglary tools and fake travel documents on them when they were arrested. They are each being held on $150,000 bail.
Two of the suspects were adult males and the third was a 14-year-old boy.
The Sheriff’s Office identified the adults as Luis Esteban Castillo Vivar, 25, and Michel Estefano Contreras Belmar, 30.