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Burglary Ring Targeted Vacationing LA Times Subscribers

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WHITTIER (CBS/AP) — A burglary ring targeted Los Angeles Times subscribers who told the paper to stop deliveries while they were on vacation, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives believe Duane Van Tuinen, 51, of Azusa, stole the Times’ “vacation hold” lists while he worked as a contracted office machine repairman for the paper’s distributors.

“Through our investigation, we learned that the list was taken from distributor warehouses at the time of the paper bundling by a machinist who was contracted by vendors of the Times to service the machines,” said Det. Jack Jordan.

Van Tuinen is accused of giving the names and addresses of the absent homeowners to suspected thieves Randall Whitmore, 43, Joshua Box, 43, and Edwin Valentine, 52.

Officials said they burglarized at least 25 homes over the last three years in Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills.

Authorities said Van Tuinen took the lists in return for a cut of the profits from the victims’ goods.

Last Thursday, detectives recovered hundreds of stolen items, including computers, gold, jewelry and collective swords, from a West Covina storage locker.

“Although much of the stolen property has been returned to the rightful owners, we are still trying to locate additional victims,” Jordan said.

All of the suspects, however, have been taken into custody.

In a statement, Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said, “Our customers can rest assured that no financial information was involved and that these burglaries, while terribly unfortunate, are likely limited to a small section of the vast area we cover. We continually review and upgrade our policies and systems to protect and best serve our customers and have eliminated our vacation pack service to prevent any future concern.”

People who believe they were victims of the burglary ring were urged to call Det. Jordan at (562) 946-7893.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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