Local Police Help Smash Vacation Burglary Ring

An office machine repairman who worked for distributors of the L.A. Times was under arrest Wednesday, suspected of providing lists of subscribers on vacation to house burglars in Los Angeles County. San Marino police assisted in the investigation.

San Marino and Arcadia police assisted in an investigation that led to the arrest of a man who allegedly provided house burglars with addresses of Los Angeles Times subscribers away on vacation.

Duane Van Tuinen, 51, of Azusa worked as an office machine repairman for distributors of Times newspapers, a sheriff's lieutenant said.

Van Tuinen was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, pending a court appearance Friday at Citrus Municipal Court.

Randall Whitmore, 43, of La Verne, Joshua Box, 43, of Arcadia and Edwin Valentine, 52, of Covina, all were arrested following an investigation of more than 25 burglaries in the San Gabriel Valley.

Valentine was being held in lieu of $220,000, pending a court date in Pomona Feb. 11; Whitmore was being held in lieu of $40,000 bail, pending a Feb. 28 court date at Citrus Municipal Court.

Box was being held in lieu of $130,000, pending a March 4 court date at Burbank Municipal Court.

Among the cities in which homes were targeted are Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills, police said.

Sheriff's investigators are looking for victims whose homes were burglarized while they were on vacation and had placed their paper deliveries on hold.

Van Tuinen allegedly got hold of the lists of subscribers who put their papers on vacation holds and then provided them to his alleged accomplices.

The suspects would visit the addresses on the lists and steal valuables while the residents vacationed; investigators said Van Tuinen would share in the booty.

Investigators found a storage unit with hundreds of stolen items from dozens of residential burglaries.

A number of victims have been tracked but there are more out there, officials said.

"Although much of the stolen property has been returned to the rightful owners, we are still trying to locate additional victims," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Jack Jordan wrote in a news release.

Detectives have recovered collectible coins, musical instruments, collectible swords, computers and jewelry from the suspects’ homes, vehicles and the storage locker, LASD Lt. Kent A. Wegener.

The investigation was a joint effort involving several southland agencies, including the Glendora, Arcadia, Chino Hills, Monrovia and San Marino Police Departments, Wegener said.

Investigators are trying to find as many victims as possible and to identify all of the burglaries committed by the suspects through tracking the stolen property.

Those who placed themselves on the LA Times vacation list and were subsequently burglarized were encouraged to contact investigator Jordan at 562-946-7893.

Callers should be prepared to supply police burglary report numbers and  descriptions of the stolen items, officials said.


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