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Door-kicking burglary suspects nabbed after hills pursuit

on October 29, 2008


OCT. 28 — A police chase through the Oakland hills ended yesterday with the arrest of two men police say may be connected to burglaries throughout the Bay Area–including a rash of recent Montclair break-ins in which homes’ front doors were kicked hard enough to force them open.

Oakland police said officers apprehended Chas Langley, 24, of Marin City and Kevin Simmons of Denver, Colo.  Monday afternoon after the men tried – and failed – to ram their car through Oakland Police cruisers that had boxed them in near the Montclair golf course.

The men are considered suspects in at least 10 Oakland burglaries and are under investigation for similar crimes in Berkeley and Sausalito, Oakland Police spokesman Jeff Thomason said today.

Langley has also been identified as a suspect in a string of residential burglaries in Marin and is wanted by the Marin County Sheriff on four unrelated warrants, including one for possessing stolen property and one for assault with a deadly weapon.

Anthony Toribio and Jeff Thomason at today's press confernce

Anthony Toribio and Jeff Thomason

Police were alerted to the car’s presence when a resident called in plate numbers on a suspicious vehicle in a Montclair neighborhood that has been hit hard by the recent break-ins.  After police confirmed that the car, a 1989 Honda, was listed as stolen and matched the description of a vehicle linked to area thefts, police cruising the area were dispatched to the scene, Thomason said.

Upon arresting the men, police found a gun in the car and property that matched the description of items stolen in prior burglaries, Thomason said.

Police confirmed the two are under investigation for the rash of burglaries in the Oakland hills in which criminals have kicked down front doors to steal high-ticket electronics.

Although city-wide burglary rates have dropped, they have spiked in the Montclair area, according to police.  More than 70 residential burglaries have been reported in the past two and a half months, Oakland Police Department’s sole burglary investigator Oliver Cunningham said at a recent community meeting. “That is a phenomenal number.  That is a crime trend,” he said, adding that Montclair is now a priority area for burglary investigations.

“They are extremely organized up there,” Cunningham said, referring to burglars in the hills. “In 30 seconds they’ve got the plasma TV off the wall and the iPod out of the drawer.”

In addition to traditional outlets like flea markets, pawn shops and local fence houses, stolen high-end products often end up for sale on the internet sites where sellers can post anonymously, said Cunningham. “Craigslist is horrible,” he said.  In fact, he recommends victims of theft check for their items on the online classified list, as well as on auction sites like eBay.

Oliver Cunningham

Oliver Cunningham

According to Cunningham, four separate gangs have been operating in the area. Police don’t suspect a conspiracy, but Deputy Chief Jeff Israel reminded residents that burglars often share information about methods and potential targets.  “They’re smart,” Israel said.  “They teach each other on the streets and in jail how to do this.”

It’s nearly impossible to thwart a determined professional burglar, Israel cautioned. “If the burglar wants in, the burglar’s going to get in,” he said.  “Unless you live in a fortress.”  Even the police aren’t immune, he added. “We’ve had rifles taken out of police cars on duty.”

However, homeowners can take measures to reduce their chances of becoming targets. Cunningham recommended residents place burglar-alarm signs in their front yards, noting that by the time thieves notice a sticker on the window, it may already be too late. And keep the alarm turned on, he added, even during the day or when at home.  Generally, Cunningham said, burglars will case out a house beforehand to monitor patterns of activity, and to see if the burglar alarm is actually engaged.

Most important of all, police say, is for communities to remain alert and involved.  When homes are hit by quick, professional burglars, a ringing alarm is useless unless neighbors and passersby notify the police.  Residents should always pay attention to any suspicious vehicles in the neighborhood, added Cunningham.  “Slow down and look,” he said.  “Just glare at them.  I’m telling you, that will scare the living-you-know what out of them.”   Burglars spread information through word of mouth, Cunningham said, and if a neighborhood has a reputation for having nosy neighbors, criminals may choose to avoid it.

At last week’s Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee meeting, Cunningham told residents that a man being held by Contra Costa authorities is suspected to be a member of one of these gangs. Thomason today confirmed police believe Monday’s arrest netted members of another.

That leaves two gangs still on the prowl, and with just one burglary investigator in the city, police are hard-pressed to resolve these cases without tips from the community.  Without information from residents, police investigations are “completely ineffective,” said Israel.

“Yesterday’s arrest is a very good example of what happens when the community is involved,” Capt. Anthony Toribio said today, noting that the suspects were caught after an alert neighbor notified police, and that the arresting officers included neighborhood problem-solving officers.  “I think this is the beginning of going to another level.”×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg


  1. Mission Hill Golf Course on January 13, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I found your blog via Google while searching for mission hill golf course, thank you for posting cking burglary suspects nabbed after hills pursuit | Oakland North!

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