Six people have been arrested and four more are being sought in connection with at least several dozen burglaries committed by a “very sophisticated” theft ring based out of South Los Angeles, the Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
The case began in March 2015 with a string of residential burglaries in Claremont, sheriff’s Lt. Chuck Calderaro said at a news conference.
The 12-detective burglary-robbery task force with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took over the case, linking the crimes to others in the region, including in Ventura County.
The crew of documented gang members that were identified as the suspects had committed dozens if not hundreds of burglaries, sheriff’s Capt. Myron Johnson said, calling them "very sophisticated."
Generally, the crew would target affluent areas using the “knock-knock” technique to find homes where residents were absent, Calderaro said.
“This type of crime is becoming epidemic,” he said.
A sheriff's news release said the burglars made phone calls into homes in Claremont before breaking in. They traveled in luxury cars and stole cash, jewelry, weapons and other valuables.
The gold and jewelry was sold at "cash for gold" shops, and other items were pawned, the release said.
The investigation has led to multiple prosecutions in separate cases.
The most recent case, requesting 24 criminal counts against 10 individuals, has been submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Calderaro said.
Six of 10 suspects in that case are in custody and four others still being sought: Eric and Alexus Netterville, Anthony Souice, and Joshua Johnson.
The identification and arrest of a string of suspects began in May 2015, the release stated.
Leandrenae Cooke, Ashley Tate, and Tazjanay Herndon were arrested in May 2015 and convicted later that year for burglaries in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Marino.
Rafiki Smith was arrested in September 2015 after he, Derrick Smith and a third individual were seen by police burglarizing homes in Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood, according to the sheriff's news release. Smith is in federal custody for weapons violations and is awaiting a preliminary hearing in connection to the residential burglaries, the release stated. The third burglar got away.
In October 2015, Jason Hayes, Diamond Williams, and Vance Zelaya were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing a home in Simi Valley. Hayes entered a guilty plea and is awaiting sentencing in Ventura County, while the other two are out on bail and awaiting a preliminary hearing.
Then, in November 2015, Rayshawn Marshall, Mark Hundley, and Michael Butler were arrested after allegedly burglarizing a Pacific Palisades home. They are all facing felony residential burglary charges.
After those arrests, the task force identified six other suspects.
Two of them have been arrested: Montayo Jones and Chivetta Overstreet.
Eric and Alexus Netterville, Souice and Johnson are outstanding.
The most recent 10-defendant case was filed against Rafiki Smith and Derrick Smith, Marshall, Hundley, Jones, Overstreet, Souice, Johnson, and Alexus Netterville and Eric Netterville.
The Sheriff’s Department asked for anyone with information on the case to call 800-222-TIPS.