RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA) — Detectives in the Inland Empire say they’ve uncovered a growing crime ring tied to students at Rancho Cucamonga high schools. They say the teens have been operating as a gang, breaking into cars and homes across the city for two years.
“It surprises me, I don’t really think of Rancho as that,” parent Lisa Cabral said.
Parents in Rancho Cucamonga say their city doesn’t seem to be the type of place where a gang would form. But detectives believe that’s what’s been happening here over the last couple years. After seeing a spike in home break-ins and property thefts around the city, they realized a group of teenagers from the local high schools were involved in many of the crimes. They’ve arrested three for conspiracy and gang ties so far and are working with school resource officers to identify others.
“That’s reassuring. I’d definitely like to nip something in the bud before it gets too big,” Cabral said. “Letting them know that we’re watching.”
“I have a lot of confidence in school administration and certainly the other students to hopefully chip in and mediate the situation,” parent Sanjay Rao said.
Detectives say they were able to solve some of the crimes by finding stolen property up for sale on sites like Craigslist and OfferUp. They also linked several teenagers to the crime ring by searching social media posts that showed them flashing gang signs and showing off money and weapons. They now want to encourage parents to help them monitor social media activity.
“Just because that’s on that child’s phone doesn’t mean it’s private,” Jacob Bailey, of the Rancho Cucamonga Police said. “As parents, we can dig a little bit and hopefully stop these events from occurring.”
“We should definitely be following whatever our kids are following, or at least paying attention,” Cabral said. “Having our own social media feed that we are checking in, paying attention, you can’t just ignore stuff like that, it’s up to us to be observant as well.”
Detectives believe some unsolved crimes in the city may be tied to this gang, in which case, more arrests may be coming.