The thieves that stole iPads at 11 schools throughout San Diego County were part of a gang, prosecutors said in court on Friday.
Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh said three suspect, Trevor Williams, Thomas Burleson and Eyon Zimmerman are known gang members from Riverside County and have been connected to seven school burglaries at six different schools dating back to last November. He said all three have extensive juvenile records.
Thefts include 29 iPads, an iMac computer and an Epson projector. The items stolen are worth approximately $250,000 combined. McHugh did not elaborate on what they were doing with the stolen merchandise and did not say whether the series is connected to organized gang activity.
The three were arrested Wednesday at the border checkpoint, with a pair of bolt cutters found in their vehicle. Prosecutor would not comment on what led officers to stop the vehicle.
Burleson, 21, is connected to all seven burglaries. The prosecutor says he is tied to the school sites using phone records. He would not elaborate or give any details on how that connection has been made.
Williams, 21, is connected to one of the cases. He is also awaiting trial for a separate North County burglary case. And the third suspect, 19-year-old Zimmerman, is connected to one of the cases, according to the district attorney’s office.
All three pleaded not guilty at their arraignment through a public defender. They have been ordered held on $300,000 bail each. A preliminary hearing is set for February 15.
The prosecutors gave very little information on Friday, other than to say they could be connected to other similar burglaries here in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles. The suspects have no known connection to San Diego.
McHugh also said the suspects are a flight risk and threat to the community.
The Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team (CATCH) helped to investigate the series of school robberies. CATCH is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional group that focuses on computer crimes.
Devices were stolen from Del Mar Heights Elementary, El Camino Creek Elementary, Cardiff Elementary, Lakeside Middle School, Lakeside Farms School and Lakeside Elementary School.
Steve Walker with the District Attorney’s office said there have been several other school break-ins that are not connected to Williams, Burleson and Zimmerman. Burke said that 123 iPads and 115 Apple laptops have been stolen dating back to November 2012.