Three recent car break-ins in southern California's Thousand Oaks have been linked to an ongoing theft ring targeting shoppers leaving Apple's retail stores, according to the Ventura Country Star.
Reports of an alleged theft ring in the Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Riverside areas began cropping up during summer 2009. The suspects in the thefts have been breaking into cars after the drivers are seen leaving an Apple Store with big ticket items like laptops.
In some of the cases, shoppers leave the Apple Store with a new computer, drive to a nearby Best Buy, and leave the computer in their car while shopping. When they return, they find their car broken into and the computer missing.
Three suspects in the theft ring, Garzon Omar David Diaz, Louis Carlos Lopez and John Marlon Rodriguez, were arrested in December and charged with 28 counts including second-degree burglary, grand theft, vehicle tampering and possession of burglary tools.
Despite the arrests, at least one similar theft has already occurred, hinting that the theft ring may have included even more people. Florida law enforcement officers have contacted Orange County officials, too, suspecting there may be links to similar crimes in their state.
"It's probably a part of a larger ring. The method of operation is similar and not coincidental," said Orange Country Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
While it's unfortunate that the car break-ins have been happening, it also drives home an important message: Don't leave anything valuable in your car.