More than 140 people have been charged in connection with Orange County burglaries and robberies in the last year, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Of those, 24 defendants are allegedly part of five different burglary crews charged in the last two weeks alone.

Additionally, seven newly charged defendants are facing hate crime enhancements for allegedly targeting Asian homeowners, officials said.

Many of the crimes that were filed in the last year involve suspects with multiple strikes under California’s Three Strikes Law.

One crew tied to 13 incidents

In the latest case, 12 people were charged in 13 home invasions and burglaries in Brea, Irvine, Yorba Linda and Orange. Seven are facing hate crime charges and five are facing life sentences for kidnapping to commit robbery, officials said. That crew is believed to have ties to Riverside and Los Angeles counties and is suspected in other crimes across Southern California.

The arrests, which began last week, were the culmination of a nine-month investigation by the Brea Police Department, and one of the defendants allegedly live-streamed part of his arrest.

One of the incidents tied to the crew occurred on May 31, 2022, when Darrell Hollowayne allegedly broke into a Brea home and was rolling a large safe down the stairs when he was interrupted by the son of the homeowner, who alerted police.

Hollowayne allegedly had five additional suspects return to the home that same night with guns to break into the home and steal the safe.

  • People later arrested as part of a burglary crew are seen sitting on top of a safe they allegedly stole on May 31, 2023. (Orange County District Attorney's Office)
  • Items stolen during a Orange County robbery are shown in a photo released by the O.C. District Attorney's Office on May 17, 2023.
  • A photo illustration released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office on May 17, 2023 shows how many defendants have been charged in connection with robberies or burglaries in the last year.

During the second incident, a friend of the victim ran out of the house, but the victim was captured and hit multiple times, officials said. The defendants then allegedly threatened to kill the victim if he couldn’t open the safe, which he could not do because his mother was out of town and he did not have the code.

The friend eventually returned to the home, where he was captured, dragged back into the house and robbed, officials said.

The defendants ended up taking the safe and later photographed themselves sitting on top of it, authorities allege.

Violent encounters

Many of the charged crimes involved violence.

In another incident in Fountain Valley, four masked men broke into a home, pistol-whipped a man and punched his wife after forcing open a locked bedroom door and holding her at gunpoint. The couple’s two young kids were in the house at the time of the attack, officials detailed.

The suspects in that case were arrested after a high-speed chase in one of two vehicles they allegedly stole from the home. Three of the four defendants charged in the case had served time in prison for previous residential burglaries, including Dreonte York, 28, who was described by authorities as a three-striker.

In another incident, a college student in Irvine had just finished showering when two masked men walked into her bathroom, ordered her to get dressed and walk around the house from room to room and point out where every piece of valuable bag or jewelry and cash was located.

Many of the defendants charged in Orange County have also been charged in connection with crimes in other Southern California counties, or are being investigated for crimes in those jurisdictions, officials said.

In fact, an “overwhelming majority” of the defendants live outside of Orange County, including as far away as South America, officials said.

Spitzer said prosecutors face hurdles with Chilean suspects because the government of that country doesn’t provide criminal histories of some of the people his office prosecute.


As a response to the “onslaught” of home invasions, commercial burglaries and smash-and-grab robberies in the region, District Attorney Todd Spitzer created a vertical prosecution unit last year to prosecute such crimes.

The Home Invasion Eradication Interdiction Strike Team is made up of four veteran prosecutors and four DA investigators.

Additionally, law enforcement throughout the region have regularly exchanged information about the robberies and burglaries to “increase cross-jurisdictional awareness and to ensure suspects are being charged with every incident that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” officials said.

“We are seeing sophisticated burglary crews working to take as much property as possible in as little time as possible,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. “Then, when our deputies catch them and take them to jail, they are released by the courts back into our community and often go right back to committing the same crimes. This is unacceptable. We know that one of the biggest deterrents to crime is an engaged community, and we are committed to partnering with you to keep our communities safe.”

Spitzer indicated that these types of crimes are not crimes of opportunity.

“These are carefully calculated and planned attacks on what should be our safe place – our homes. These crews are waiting, they are watching our every move, and when they think the timing is just right, they are smashing their way into our lives – and carrying out whatever cash, jewelry, and other expensive items they can find. And when they get it wrong – and someone is home – they do whatever it takes to terrorize their victims into telling them where the money is,” he said.

Spitzer added that judges and the legislature have “failed” those in law enforcement. He claims people who already served time re-offend because there are “no consequences.”

“That’s exactly why there are people with five, six, and nine strikes breaking into our homes instead of serving time behind bars. The criminals are getting a strong message – the reward is far greater than the risk – and crime literally pays in California,” the district attorney stressed. “If you come here to commit crimes, we’re going to arrest you and we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”