TORRANCE ( — Seven men have been arrested on suspicion of committing two separate distraction burglaries at homes in the Torrance area.

The men, who were arrested on Feb. 20, were observed by police at two different homes, Torrance police officials said.

Police say Joey John, 34, of Houston, Texas; Bobby Long, 41, of Stafford, Texas; Harold Tom Nelson, 37, of Houston; and John Nelson of Kenner, La., were posing as Southern California Edison utility workers in order to burglarize a home in the 4000 block of 176th Street.

Patrol officers saw a vehicle with its engine running and its rear hatch open at the home, and later found the homeowner’s side gate open as the four suspects worked in concert to distract her in her backyard, police said. As the suspects provided their fictitious services, they entered the home and took valuables they could pocket, according to police.

When officers made contact with the suspects, they fled on foot and were taken into custody, allegedly with the victim’s jewelry.

At a second location, Torrance police detectives saw three men allegedly trying to burglarize four homes, succeeding at one home, in the city of Carson. The suspects were later arrested in Fullerton.

Police arrested Michael Lawrence Cook, 32, of Las Vegas; Leo Christopher West, 35, of Corona; and a 17-year-old boy of Fullerton.

West was also linked to several other South Bay burglaries, police said.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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