GARDEN GROVE (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of victims of an alleged serial car burglar lined up in Garden Grove Thursday to reclaim their personal belongings during a public viewing of the recovered goods.
In all, 44 people were able to get back about 120 stolen items, which were displayed at the Garden Grove Community Meeting Center, according to Lt. Jeff Nightengale of the Garden Grove Police Department.
KCAL9’s Michele Gile said a Westminster reporter who was covering the event actually found a camera and a microphone that were stolen from his news vehicle in 2011.
Victim Melanie Romulou said she was disappointed because she couldn’t find her Louis Vuitton bag that was taken from inside her car.
“I did get a flash drive back with a lot of wedding and engagement stuff on it,” she said.
Police said the car thefts, connected to 41-year-old Julio Pachas of Anaheim, began in 2011 and continued into late 2012 in Garden Grove, Westminster, Cypress, Los Alamitos, Buena Park, and parts of Los Angeles County.
Detectives nabbed Pachas when a Garden Grove couple, who had just been victimized, spotted the suspect’s vehicle and wrote down the license plate number.
Police found cellphones, laptops, and cameras in the suspect’s home, along with a handgun, a Taser, 119 California driver’s licenses, 241 credit cards, several hundred purses, wallets, backpacks, suitcases, and nearly $100,000 in cash.
Pachas was arrested and posted bail in October, but officials said he continued to burglarize people’s cars.
The suspect pleaded not guilty Nov. 29 to a variety of felonies, including four counts of second-degree burglary, a count of possession of a firearm by a felon, a count of a prohibited person owning ammunition, and two counts of receiving stolen property.
He also faces a sentencing enhancement for committing a crime while out of custody on another charge.
In addition, Pachas was charged with two counts of oral copulation of a minor, three counts of unlawful sex and possession of child pornography in connection to an alleged relationship he had with a 17-year-old girl.
Police said another girlfriend of the suspect, Michella Ann Fuquad, was charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property.
Authorities encourage any car burglary victims to call (714) 563-6052 for instructions on how to get their personal items.
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