At least five suspects in their 20s described by the sheriff’s department as “a brazen band of thieves” were facing felony charges Monday after being arrested over the past month for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of vehicles, electronics, photography equipment and other items from dozens of victims in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The first suspect to be arrested was 24-year-old Evan McLaughlin, who was booked on June 12. The others were identified as Samuel Oseas, 22; Kylie Crawford, 20; Nicholas Menorbooth, 22; and Kyle Porter, 22, according to officials at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Santa Clarita Valley Station.
The suspects allegedly broke into vehicles, taking anything of value and, if the keys were left inside, the vehicles as well, according to the sheriff’s department.
“In one of the first in the string of thefts, a Saugus resident’s pickup truck was stolen out of the driveway,” said Sgt. Pete Bringas of the Santa Clarita Valley Station’s Crime Impact Team, which began an investigation in the first week of June. “The victim’s wallet was in the truck, and the suspects started using the victim’s credit cards at restaurants immediately after.”
After McLaughlin was arrested, deputies continued following leads, working to locate the other suspects and last week authorities received a call from a resident reporting suspicious activity outside a business in the 26500 block of Bouquet Canyon Road.
“A deputy was dispatched to the location and observed a male adult in a vehicle stuffed with items, including ladies’ handbags and briefcases,” according to a sheriff’s department statement.
“Earlier that same morning, a handful of vehicle burglaries had been reported in the Valencia area, and some of the items matched the description. The occupant of the vehicle, Samuel Oseas … was arrested on grand theft charges. He admitted to a deputy that the items were stolen, and indicated he took them to support his drug addiction.”
Within days, Crawford, Menorbooth and Porter were arrested as well.
A sixth person was also taken into custody, but no information about that individual was immediately available, according to the sheriff’s department.
Five stolen vehicles were recovered as well as other property worth thousands of dollars. Photography equipment worth an estimated $3,000 was returned to one victim, the sheriff’s department reported.
“These suspects were going out nightly and admitted to pulling at least 200 door handles per night,” Bringas said. “They were breaking into vehicles and homes, at least five to 10 burglaries per night. With the arrests of these suspects, we expect vehicle thefts to go down substantially.”
Sgt. Dan Dantice who oversees the station’s Crime Prevention Unit, warned the public to stay vigilant and to remove items of value from vehicles and keep doors locked at all times.
“Most of the thefts that occurred were from unlocked vehicles,” Dantice said.
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