Garage doors

Huntington Beach home burglaries may be linked to South American robbery ring

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Residents living in a Huntington Beach neighborhood are nervous after a spate of burglaries, and police suspect the robbers may be linked to a South American robbery ring.

For example, a home surveillance camera captured three men running out of Cari Castaneda’s Huntington Habour home in April.

“Alarm, cameras, dog signs, doors in front of my house. I thought everything was locked and here we are,” Castaneda said.

In the video, the suspects jumped into a getaway car and disappeared.

“They entered through the second story window. It was in a bathroom, they entered the master bedroom, broke our safes from the wall, took the safes with them,” Castaneda said. . “We lost about a quarter of a million dollars in cash and jewelry.”

Lisa Rudy’s house was hit in exactly the same way two months before.

“The glass was broken. There was a very small hole in my upstairs balcony door,” Rudy said. “The thieves had come through this little hole, went straight into my master bedroom which they ransacked, stole my safe and other valuables.”

Huntington Beach Police said in Huntington Harbor there have been nearly 30 break and enters since January last year.

“In our neighborhood, in those 30 burglaries, we know there were millions of dollars stolen, millions of dollars,” Rudy said.

Home burglaries are a problem across the country.

However, Jennifer Carey, public affairs officer for the city of Huntington Beach, said they haven’t seen a significant spike in the city.

City data showed that in 2019, police reported 167 residential burglaries.

So far this year, 115 have been investigated.

While HBPD can’t say for sure that these recent Huntington Harbor burglaries are all tied to a specific group, Carey said she noticed a pattern tied to South American robbery groups.

“These patterns include burglaries through the second story window or door. It also includes targeting certain houses that have a lot of space at the back of the property, and we notice that they tend to use cars rental to fit the surrounding area,” Carey said.

She said police have increased neighborhood patrols and installed surveillance cameras.

They warn that these thieves can explore the houses in advance.

Here are some HBPD safety tips to protect your home when you’re away from home:

  1. Turn on outdoor lights at night and, if possible, install motion-sensing outdoor lights that turn on and off automatically.
  2. Lock all windows, exterior doors, gates and garage doors that provide access to your property.
  3. Cut or remove landscaping that provides hiding places around vulnerable doors and windows.
  4. While on vacation, have someone pick up your mail and mow the lawn. Do not advertise that your house is vacant.
  5. Consider getting a monitored alarm system with audible warnings to scare off intruders. If you have a house on the second floor, make sure the alarm system is installed upstairs as well.
  6. When you’re away from home, don’t advertise it on social media, ie vacation photos and real-time updates.

Rudy and Castaneda said they will remain vigilant to protect their community.

“It’s a terrible feeling to know that someone has been in your space,” Rudy said.

“My biggest thing is that I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Castaneda said.

Police are exploring the possibility of imposing temporary street closures to limit the amount of traffic passing through certain areas.

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