Two men charged as members of a prolific Seattle-area burglary ring were wearing jewelry belonging to one of their victims when they were arrested earlier this week, according to charging documents filed in court. A third member of the crew was arrested earlier.
The three-man crew targeted luxury homes and is believed responsible for more than 120 burglaries that netted them about $3 million in cash, jewelry and designer handbags. When the two most recent arrests were made, police found some of the $1.2 million in jewelry stolen from Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez in November and the men were wearing some of the jewelry. Stolen goods were found in the homes of at least two of the men. All three suspects are in their 20s and have lengthy criminal records.
Police say the men were able to gain entry into the homes by smashing outdoor security system panels to disable alarm systems then using rocks to shatter glass windows and sliding doors to enter the homes. The suspects drove luxury cars -- paid for with the profits from their illegal enterprise -- to better blend into the neighborhoods they targeted. Sometimes victims were home during the break-ins.
The suspects were caught after one dropped his cell phone in the backyard of a luxury neighborhood. The same suspect dropped a food-stamp card belonging to his girlfriend at another home that had been burglarized. Once police learned his name, they discovered he had been fitted with a GPS ankle monitor after his stint in prison. They tracked his whereabouts using the GPS and found he had been at some of the homes when they were burglarized.
The arrests were the result of a nine-month police investigation. The men have been charged with residential burglary, criminal trespass in the second degree and possession of stolen property in the first degree.
A person is guilty of residential burglary if he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime. Residential burglary is a Class B felony and considered a more serious offense than second-degree burglary. It is punishable by up to 10 years in jail, or a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if he or she enters or remains unlawfully in or on someone else's premises, whereas first-degree criminal trespass is when the person unlawfully enters a building. The second-degree charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A first-degree charge is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Possessing stolen property worth more than $5,000 is a first-degree offense. The charge of possessing stolen property in the first degree does not apply to firearms or motor vehicles. It, too, is a Class B felony.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone charged with a criminal act deserves the best defense. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.