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Ex-convict arrested in string of car burglaries near movie studios

A Los Angeles man who was on parole is accused of breaking into cars near movie studios in Hollywood and elsewhere and stealing valuables such as cellphones, iPads and jewelry.

April 18, 2012|By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
  • Det. James Martinez, center, and Officer Michael Klee help Luis Montejano, left, find camera gear that was stolen from his vehicle in January. L.A. police recovered thousands of dollars' worth of camera equipment and other valuables and have arrested an ex-convict, who is accused of stealing it from parked cars.
Det. James Martinez, center, and Officer Michael Klee help Luis Montejano,… (Christina House, For The…)

An ex-convict who was free on probation has been arrested after police discovered tens of thousands of dollars' worth of items they say he may have stolen from cars parked near movie studios.

Police believe Sean C. Ray, 35, of Los Angeles rented a Mercedes-Benz convertible to avoid calling attention to himself while driving the streets and scouting cars to burglarize.

Ray was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of receiving stolen property, LAPD Det. Jim Hays said at a news conference in front of the Hollywood Community Police Station.

Hays addressed the media before tables laden with about 80 cameras and many lenses, numerous cellphones, iPads, laptops, external hard drives, dozens of comic books, backpacks, watches, jewelry and foreign currency from various countries. Detectives also found $24,000 in cash, Hays said.

So far, Hays said, detectives have found items stolen in nine reported vehicle break-ins — including one dating to May 2010 — in Hollywood, North Hollywood, the Wilshire area and Burbank.

Many of the break-ins occurred in areas near movie studios "where employees park on the streets and leave property exposed in the vehicles," Hays said.

Police have embarked on a publicity campaign to caution the public about the increase in recent property crimes, especially car break-ins. They urged motorists not to leave valuable property in their vehicles in plain sight.

The events leading to Ray's arrest began April 10, when a man's car was burglarized near a Hollywood studio on Seward Street, Hays said. The victim viewed a parking lot surveillance video and saw a Mercedes convertible in the area. He passed the information to friends.

On Sunday, one of the friends saw a car matching the description near Las Palmas Avenue and Romaine Street. He spotted a man get out of the car with a crowbar and circle a parked Porsche several times. The man got into a Mercedes convertible and left without breaking into the Porsche, but the witness noted the license plate, Hays said.

Police determined that the car had been rented to Ray. They searched his apartment on South Virgil Avenue and found voluminous amounts of property.

Ray has been to prison twice, both times for car burglary, and is on probation for receiving stolen property, Hays said.

Officers are going through the items to determine how much of it has been stolen, a job that could take days.

"We want to identify people who own this property so we can get it back to them," he said.

Anyone wishing to claim property is asked to call the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood detectives at (213) 972-2944.

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