The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau held a press conference Wednesday to locate owners of expensive bicycles taken in residential burglaries. The bicycles that were displayed are a portion of those bicycles which were recovered at the culmination of a month long investigation of a residential 'hot prowl' burglary crew.
These burglars would identify their prospective targets from the persons selling expensive bicycles on Craigslist. The suspects would make contact with the victims by using a fictitious name and email account. After establishing a dialogue about the bicycles with the sellers, the suspects would learn enough information to identify the residences where the bicycles were being kept. Much of this information was obtained directly from the unsuspecting victims and some was obtained by searching various Internet sites such as Facebook and White Pages Online.
The suspects would then drive to the targeted residences and burglarize them during the early morning hours. Entry into the homes was made via garage door openers, which were left inside of accessible cars or by cutting the garage door at the top and using a makeshift tool to pull the garage door opener cord, detaching the opener from the door and allowing the door to be easily rolled up.
Although many of the bikes were taken from the garages, often times the suspects would enter the living areas of the residence, to locate and steal the property. After stealing the bikes, many valued between 5 and 15 thousand dollars, the suspects would return to Los Angeles and sell them to a bike shop owner in the city of Los Angeles.
After many nights of surveillance, Major Crimes investigators witnessed a burglary crew enter a residence in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, using the method just described and stole a bicycle valued at more than $5,000. Investigators followed the suspects directly to another residence where they were arrested without incident.
The property was recovered and returned to the victim immediately.
Three suspects were implicated in more than 100 residential burglaries, and some of the bicycles have been recovered.
The burglary suspects are identified as: Julian Herrera of Los Angeles, Jaime Herrera of Panorama City and Alberto Mejia of Colton
They are being held in San Bernardino County Jail with a $2 million bail.
In addition, criminal charges are pending against the owner of the bike shop, Melecio Martinez of Los Angeles, in the receiving of known stolen property.
Though many of the bikes have been returned to their owners, investigators are still seeking additional victims to which to return stolen property.
The burglaries occurred in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura and include cities such as Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Woodland Hills, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks.
Victims are encouraged to call Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau at 562-946-7893. Please have the brand, model and serial number of your bicycles available, as well as the police report number documenting the theft.