A multi-county burglary ring responsible for stealing a total of $1.9 million in designer watches and purses, jewelry, guns and cash was arrested by SWAT teams on May 15.
Suspects Jurandir Endnilson Penate (24), Erick Daniel Sorra (27), Alvaro Ramos (37), Eugene Yi (35) and Sergio Soto (33) were taken into custody.
According to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer in an interview with CBSLA, “These individuals, five what I consider very dangerous thieves, who go to people’s homes in very nice neighborhoods here in Orange County and San Bernardino, and steal property.”
During the investigation, the suspected SUV was spotted two times but escaped during high-speed chases, in one of which the suspect was driving 150 mph.
Seven search warrants were simultaneously executed by the District Attorney’s AB109 Task Force; Fullerton, Anaheim and Buena Park Police Departments; Orange Sheriff’s Department; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in LA County on the same day as the arrests.
Spitzer said that the group may have been lying low due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
“We do know that when people are home and they’re watching their property, burglars are less likely to want to break into their homes during a pandemic,” Spitzer said.
Felony criminal charges were filed against the five defendants on May 18 in connection with the series of 44 residential burglaries ranging from Chino Hills in August 2019 to Fullerton, Anaheim Hills, Villa Park, Lake Forest, Yorba Linda, Buena Park and Irvine through February 2020. Four of these burglaries occurred when residents were home.
If convicted on all charges, Soria, who was then on parole for residential burglary, faces 83 years and eight months in state prison; Soto, a third striker with prior convictions for residential burglaries and assault with a deadly weapon, faces 35 years to life; Ramos, then on parole for residential burglary and evading the police, will receive 125 years; Yi, with one prior strike for a great bodily injury conviction in 2005, will be given 19 years and 8 months; and Penate faces 55 years and four months.
According to Fullerton Police Chief Bob Dunn in a press conference at the DA’s office, “This case underscores law enforcement’s resolve to effectively collaborate, across jurisdictions, to bring criminals to justice.”
“They were prolific burglars who perpetrated crimes across at least three counties and operated without care for the consequences,” Dunn said in an interview with ABC7.
According to Spitzer, property crime has increased due to efforts to decriminalize felonies and release state prisoners and jail inmates back into their communities.
“This case exemplifies why I started the AB109 Crime Impact Task Force last year to identify paroles who commit new crimes and assist police agencies in their investigations to get these criminals off the streets and back in prison where they belong,” Spitzer said.
The AB109 Crime Impact Task Force, housed at the Santa Ana Police Department and responsible for the arrest of 129 AB109ers since July 2019, comprises of five DA Investigators, one Santa Ana police officer, one OC Probation Officer, and an Investigating Assistant and a Research Analyst from the DA’s office.
“The public has an absolute right to be protected against these career thieves,” Spitzer said. “We are all in danger when individuals like that are allowed to be on our streets.”
The five defendants are being held on no bail at the Orange County Jail. The investigation is ongoing.
Alessandra Arif is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.