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VALLEY ROUNDUP | West Valley

Luxury Homes Hit by Jewel Burglars

September 30, 2000|SUE FOX

These finicky burglars know what they're after: diamonds, gold, the good stuff. They dart into homes through backyards nestled into the hills, head straight for the glittering goods and leave behind the cheap costume jewelry--but no fingerprints.

"These guys are good," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Norman Campbell of the Malibu/Lost Hills station. "They're pretty smart. They're very careful about fingerprints and the places are not being ransacked."

So far, more than 10 homes in the upscale cities of Hidden Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village have been hit since January, authorities said. The thief or thieves--investigators are not sure how many people are involved--typically target luxury homes at sunset, sneaking in through the rear. Most of the houses back onto open spaces, giving intruders a quick escape route.

"This is hilly, uneven terrain where frequently you can't even see the house next to you," said Sgt. Kevin Mauch.

Sheriff's deputies say the crimes are very similar and may be linked to another rash of burglaries in eastern Ventura County earlier this year. Several homes were hit by jewel thieves in the North Ranch section of Thousand Oaks in February, said Sgt. Steven Bourke of the Thousand Oaks Police Department.

Victims have lost thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, but detectives would not say exactly how much has been stolen.

To keep jewels safe, authorities advise residents to activate motion sensors on outdoor lighting, keep doors and windows locked and report any suspicious activity to police.

So far, no one has reported seeing the elusive burglars. Authorities are seeking the public's help, asking anyone with information about the crimes to call Det. Mark Borges at (818) 878-1808.

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