VC Sheriff’s Department Concerned About Rise in Gang Related Burglaries

By Tim Pompey

To help inform the public about the growing risk of burglaries in the county, Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Prentis called a press conference at the East County Sheriff’s Station in Thousand Oaks on Thursday, July 13 to announce the arrest of seven burglary suspects from Los Angeles. All the suspects are connected to L.A. street gangs.

“It’s a disturbing trend that’s a huge challenge for law enforcement,” said Prentis. “It’s a challenge to our restaurants, our commercial businesses, and our residential community at large—this trend of street crime gang members that come up and make their living on stealing from others. It’s getting so common and takes so much resource to combat it.”

The suspects were believed to be involved in multiple robberies in Thousand Oaks last April involving commercial, retail, and residential properties. Prentis described the scope of these robberies:

“We’re experiencing middle of the night with crowbars, three or four guys and gals hitting our restaurants, breaking glass doors, interrupting business for the next day to steal a few hundred dollars from the cash register or take some product.”

Within the retail community, the burglars seem to be focused on drug and grocery stores, including heists at a Thrifty’s, a CVS, and a Vons. “Depending on what their shopping list is, what they can profit from, it’s either baby formula or high-end liquor, and they’re out the back, and while we’re responding, they’re hitting a store in the neighboring area,” he said.

But what’s most disturbing to Prentis and Ventura County law enforcement is the effort that’s being made by these Los Angeles street gangs to survey and burglarize residential neighborhoods.

“Probably the biggest problem,” Prentis noted, “is this residential activity that we see with these gang members. They’re using Zillow. They’re using the Internet. They’re looking for affluent areas. They’re looking for opportunity. A lot of these houses, it seems they’ve had surveillance on because they hit them soon after residents leave and the residents are only gone for a short time.”

Last April, the Ventura County Sheriff Department’s Thousand Oaks and Moorpark patrol stations had a series of residential burglaries that occurred late in the evening. All the residences were adjacent to open areas. In at least two cases, there were reports of suspicious activity a few days before the robberies. This activity included turning a backyard security light around and wrapping a rope around another backyard light fixture.

In two other incidents, the victims were gone only a short period and returned to find their homes burglarized. All the burglaries involved gaining access to the home through a rear window or glass door. In one of burglaries, a suspect cut himself on a piece of broken glass and left blood at the scene. Consequently, this helped to identify their DNA and tie them to the case.

A task force was formed between the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department. Several of the task force members attended the press conference, including:

  • Los Angeles Police Department: Jason Valles, Adan Renteria
  • Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office: Mike Maher, Captain Myron Johnson, Lieutenant Chuck Calderaro
  • Ventura County Sheriff’s Department: Detective Jeremy Bramlettte, Detective Andja Marco, Crime Analyst Kathryn Munyon

The seven suspects, all from Los Angeles, included:

Kaylyn Breedlove, 22, Marcus Gilmore, 20, Jermale Henry, 20, Jamel Freeman, 19, Ricky Perkins, 19, Romeo Jackson, 19, Karnell Lawson, 19.

Breedlove, Gilmore, and Freeman are in custody in the Ventura County Jail. Henry and Perkins are in custody at the Los Angeles County Jail. Jackson and Lawson each have an outstanding arrest warrant pending.

“We used to worry about telling people to lock your doors, lock your cars, because theft is a crime of opportunity,” said Prentis. “So people are locking their houses. These guys are breaking rear sliders. They’re breaking windows. They’re getting entry.”

These types of street gang burglaries are not isolated to Ventura County. They are also widespread throughout Southern California. Prentis cited such communities as Anaheim, Yorba Linda, and many communities in Los Angeles. “It’s not just Thousand Oaks,” he said. “This is a Southern California problem.”

One of Prentis’s points for holding a press conference was to encourage neighbors and neighborhoods to be aware of the widespread problem and to watch out for each other.

“We need to be aware,” he urged. “We need to call local law enforcement. We need to give descriptions. We need to look out for our neighbors. If it looks suspicious, call. Let’s intercept this.”

He assured county residents that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is taking the problem seriously and assessing its own resource alignment to address the problem. “No law enforcement resource will be spared to hunt these people down and build good conspiracy cases so we can get them in prison so they’re not hitting any more neighborhoods.”

But the question is, what resources will it take to solve the problem? Prentis admits it’s tough to decide where to make personnel shifts: “It’s a difficult decision because we’re not in any position to ask for new allocations. We have healthy budgets, we’re well-funded, but that is administrative’s job to look at what we want to do now, what are we doing that’s less important, where can we move bodies and build a task force.”

He urges neighbors to be aware of the scope of these burglaries and to make an effort to watch their neighborhoods and be vigilant.

“This takes a lot of resources to put this together,” he explained. “It takes neighbors that are aware and willing to call and understand when something suspicious is happening. This trend isn’t going to go away.”

 

 


Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/booksbytimpompey.

Mr. Pompey’s Newest Book:  

deep.downDeep Down  is another roller coaster collection of short stories by author Tim Pompey. A mortician with ghost problems. A humanoid stranded in outer space. A B-17 bomber pilot haunted by voices from his past. These and other stories dig beneath reality and crawl through hidden tunnels to a world that exists without and within us. From childhood to old age, these stories are locked inside the mind, waiting to be discovered.

Go deep. Very deep. Find out what lies buried within your own imagination.

Deep Down On Amazon


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One Response to VC Sheriff’s Department Concerned About Rise in Gang Related Burglaries

  1. As Predicted July 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

    The policy is destroy Ventura Co. using Section 8 housing. As everyone has noticed, in the last 5 years these criminals have been moving into Ventura County in droves. Now their gangs can set up shop.

    Reply

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