SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Federal authorities have arrested two men they say went on a three-month burglary spree this summer, targeting coin and precious metal shops all over Southern California and in Nevada.
Caleb Jamal Griffin, 20, of Long Beach, and Owen Lazaro Thompson, 49, of Las Vegas, were arrested Sunday and charged with interstate transportation of stolen goods. According to the ATF, Griffin was arrested in Fullerton after he was observed burglarizing a coin dealer, while Thompson was arrested at his home, where stolen merchandise from the crime spree was found.
A federal affidavit filed with the criminal complaint alleges Griffin and Thompson committed at least 21 early morning burglaries or attempted burglaries between July 10 and Sept. 29, usually getting in by tying a tow line to a Jeep SUV to pull off the stores’ security gates by driving away from the business. At each coin or precious metal dealer, the ATF says the duo would take merchandise and be out of there within 90 seconds.
In one Fullerton burglary, Griffin and Thompson allegedly drove a vehicle through the front of the store to get inside. At another, they used a blow torch to cause the store window to shatter, according to the ATF.
In 10 weeks, the ATF says the pair netted more than $292,000 in stolen coins and merchandise.
A task force of ATF agents and detectives from Brea, Fullerton, Signal Hill and Huntington Beach linked the pair to burglaries from Las Vegas, to Laguna Beach, to Signal Hill. One dealer, Fullerton Coins, was hit four times – twice in July just four days apart, and again in August and September. The Signal Hill location of Liberty Coins was also burglarized more than once – once in August, and again in September. Two locations of Morgan’s Jewelers, one in Rolling Hills Estates and the other in Torrance, were burglarized on the same day, Aug. 13.
Authorities also suspect the pair in the following burglaries and attempted burglaries:
July 27: Tangible Investments, 32001 Coast Highway in Laguna Beach
July 28: Covina Coin & Jewelry, 204 S. Citrus Ave. in Covina
Aug. 4: An attempt at About Face Coins, 475 N. Tustin St. in Orange
Aug. 11: An attempt at Liberty Coin, 10122 Ave. in Huntington Beach
Aug. 16: Laguna Coins, 23583 Moulton Pkway, #112, in Laguna Woods
Aug. 18: Sahara Coins, 7293 W. Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas
Aug. 26: CNC Coins Vault, 1814 N. Tustin Ave. in Santa Ana
Aug. 27: Quicksilver Coin Company, 22421 El Toro Road, #H, in Lake Forest
Aug. 29: Imperial Pawnbrokers, a federal firearms licensee, 777 W. Imperial Highway in Brea
Sept. 8: Liberty Coin, 10122 Ave. in Huntington Beach
Sept. 17: Las Vegas Coin Company, 9555 S. Eastern Ave. in Las Vegas
Sept. 21: Alhambra Coin Center, 254 E. Main St. in Alhambra
Sept. 24: Hough Coin, 16816-D Main St. in Hesperia
Both men made their first appearances in United States District Court Monday.