In a daring daylight heist, thieves broke into a trucking terminal in Simi Valley and stole tractor-trailer rigs loaded with about $1 million worth of cargo, including thousands of pairs of fashionable jeans, police and trucking officials said Monday.
"I think it's possibly related to some kind of ring," Simi Valley Police Detective Anthony Anzilotti said of the theft, which officers believe occurred Sunday afternoon. "They were not amateurs."
Authorities recovered three of the five rigs Sunday and Monday--two in the Los Angeles County communities of Lynwood and Vernon and a third on the shoulder of the San Diego Freeway in Orange County. However, most of the cargo was missing, they said.
Investigators believe the operation was well-planned.
Anzilotti said the suspects broke through a padlock at the fenced Consolidated Freightways Inc. terminal yard on Easy Street in Simi Valley, hot-wired the rigs and escaped with their valuable cargoes. Police declined to comment on the company's security arrangements.
At least three of the trailers were full of jeans and other apparel manufactured by Bugle Boy Industries of Simi Valley. The firm's national headquarters is based near the freight terminal.
Bugle Boy, founded in 1977, manufactures men's, women's and children's clothing. Its jeans sell for about $30 a pair.
Bugle Boy officials declined to comment on the theft.
Police estimated the value of the tractor-trailer rigs at about $45,000 each. All five trailers belonged to Palo Alto-based Consolidated Freightways, as did four of the tractors.
A fifth stolen tractor, used to haul away one of the trailers, was owned by Simi Valley Recycling, authorities said.
Also included in the $1-million cargo was a trailer filled with electronic merchandise, including videocassette recorders and cameras, police said.
Investigators said that professional fencing rings can quickly dispose of the hot-selling clothing and electronic merchandise through shady retail outlets and flea markets.
"It's going to be difficult to recover the property," Anzilotti said.
Consolidated Freightways officials were stunned by the theft.
"This is really a major deal," said supervisor Chuck Eichelberger. "We're supposed to be the smoothest-operating terminal" in the company, he said.
Company spokesman Doug Kline said the terminal is one of 700 that the firm operates in North America. He said the company is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in connection with the theft.
The theft's timing was embarrassing for the Simi Valley trucking operation, Eichelberger said.
Next week, he said, a Consolidated Freightways vice president is scheduled to present the unit with "the perfect audit" award for being meticulous in keeping track of its inventory.
"We'll still get that," he said.
Times staff writer Ron Soble contributed to this story.