Burglary Ring Targeting Vacationers Busted By Sheriffs - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Burglary Ring Targeting Vacationers Busted By Sheriffs

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Los Angeles, CA -

It's all backwards. You're supposed to be more secure when you go on vacation by calling your local newspaper and canceling your subscription while your gone. LA County Sheriffs Deputies say it didn't work that way.

They've arrested four man who they say burglarized homes while LA Times subscribers were vacationing! Nicole Nishida with the Sheriffs Department says a machine repairman named Duane Van Tuinen stole vacation lists while in Time offices then passed them along to the three men who went into customer homes and took property. Stolen were such things as computers, musical instruments, collectible coins and swords among other things. Tuinen, she says, is a contractor.

Those three named by deputies in the burglaries are Randall Whitmore of LaVerne, Joshua Box of Arcadia and Edwin Valentine of Covina. Nishida says they were originally thought to have broken into 25 homes, but since the story of all of this has gotten out into the media that number has grown.

She says the Times has increased security of those lists to keep that from happening again. Nishida says the case broke last June during a simple traffic stop in which an officer found lists and stolen property. One thing led to another and now 4 men are in custody.

More on the story:

(CNS) Four men suspected of being part of a burglary ring that targeted Los Angeles Times subscribers who had notified the newspaper to stop deliveries while they went on vacation were arrested, authorities announced today.

Investigators believe Duane Van Tuinen, 51, of Azusa, obtained the vacation lists and passed them on to a group of suspects, including Randall Whitmore, 43, of La Verne, Joshua Box, 43, of Arcadia, and Edwin Valentine, 52, of Covina, according to Nicole Nishida of the sheriff's department.

Whitmore, Box and Valentine have been arrested, Nishida said. Later, Deputy Mark Pope confirmed that Van Tuinen had also been arrested. Charges are pending against all four suspects, Nishida said.

Van Tuinen worked as an office machine repairman who was under contract to distributors of the Los Angeles Times to repair their office machines, Nishida said.

"Once inside the businesses, investigators believe that he repeatedly stole lists of Los Angeles Times newspaper subscribers who were on vacation,'' Nishida said. "Van Tuinen passed them on to the suspects, who carried out the burglaries. Van Tuinen would share in the stolen property and ultimately sell it for profit.''

Detectives believe the suspects committed more than 25 burglaries in areas that included Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills. The investigation led detectives to a West Covina storage locker; and on Thursday they seized hundreds of pieces of stolen property from dozens of residential burglaries, Nishida said. The property included collectible coins, collectible swords, musical instruments, computers and jewelry.

Detectives have found some of the victims and returned their property to them. They urged others to contact authorities. Detectives urged possible victims to contact them to retrieve their
recovered property.

People who had placed themselves on the vacation list and whose residences were burglarized were urged to call Detective Jack Jordan at (562) 946-7893. Victims should be prepared to provide a police report number from their burglary and a description of the stolen items.

Nancy Sullivan, The Times vice president of communications, said the newspaper has made changes in its delivery policies since being made aware of the crimes. "We continuously review and upgrade our policies and systems to protect and best serve our customers,'' Sullivan said.

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