The San Diego Police Department said they are investigating a series of approximately 56 residential burglaries in the last 6 months that have taken place in Del Mar, La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Torrey Highlands, Del Mar Mesa, Black Mountain Ranch and North City areas.
Authorities believe 18 of those burglaries are part of a larger series. They are similar to a series of 60 burglaries since May of 2021 that the San Diego County Sheriff's Department is investigating that have taken place in 4S Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe and North Poway. Many of the burglaries are targeting "high-end" residences.
Authorities say the burglars are coming in groups of three, oftentimes with a getaway car waiting outside to take them away. According to the SDSO, most of the burglaries are happening within the first three hours after sunset when the residents are not at home. They say many of the burglaries are happening in less than 10 minutes, but the suspects have been able to get away with upwards of $100,000 worth of valuables oftentimes in the form of jewelry, safes, cash, or heirlooms.
Dr. Tony Lopez and his wife Rose Marie Lopez said their home was burglarized in a similar manner in November 2021 when they were away on vacation in Palm Springs.
They were notified via a security app on their iPhone that there was a burglary in progress at their La Jolla home. They say they watched as three burglars who were masked, wearing hoodies and gloves entered their home by breaking a glass door in the back of their home, ran upstairs to their master bedroom area and stuffed a jewelry box into a pillowcase. They ran outside to what they believed was a getaway car. In total, the burglars took about $80,000 worth of family heirlooms and jewelry.
"They knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going. They looked self-assured, they did not seem like a burglar in panic, they just were like what you see in the movies," Lopez said.
The security system called 911 and they say police arrived at their home within 20 minutes, but by then the suspects were gone. They say they believe the burglars were in their home for less than 10 minutes.
"Our house is supposed to be a safe haven for everyone, a sanctuary and we feel like I don’t feel as comfortable anymore," Rose Marie Lopez said.
Around two months later, their neighbor Holly Casele said her home was burglarized too.
She was out to dinner with her son, when the burglars broke into her home, entered the master bedroom area and took off with a safe and jewelry valued at $100,000.
"I’m grateful that my family's safe and no one was harmed. My dog was there in the house, I’m grateful that my dog wasn’t harmed. I can replace a lot of the material things that I’ve lost, but I obviously couldn’t replace people or my dog," Casele said.
SDSO said they believe that the suspects might be from Chile and are here in the United States on a temporary 90-day visa program. They also say that they might be traveling to San Diego from the Orange County area.
The San Diego Police Department's Northern Division held a community meeting Friday to answer questions from residents.
Authorities ask residents to set an alarm system when they leave their home, consider adding glass break sensors to areas with large windows or doors, utilize light timers to make it appear you are at home when you are away and have notifications from your security system turned on on your mobile devices.