Police catch 3 home invasion suspects (updated)

A Claremont woman helped put 3 men behind bars after a north Claremont home invasion Tuesday afternoon. Police believe the trio of Long Beach residents has been involved in a string of residential burglaries throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Nancy Staples was at her daughter’s home in the 2300 block of Oxford Avenue when she heard a knock at the door. She peered out a window and because the man at the door was someone she didn’t recognize, Ms. Staples left the knock unanswered. Though the man walked away, he soon returned with another in tow. They knocked on the door again. When no one answered the second time, the men proceeded to enter the home through an unlocked side garage door, according to Ms. Staples, who barricaded herself in a bedroom and called the police.

Claremont police officers arrived as the 2 men were fleeing the home with stolen electronics. Both subjects were arrested a mere 25 feet from the house. A third individual found in a car parked nearby believed to be the getaway driver in the burglary was also arrested. Police searched the man’s silver Jeep Cherokee and found at least 8 bags filled with stolen jewelry, according to Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen.

The subjects who entered the home, 22-year-old Edwin Santiago of Long Beach and a 17-year-old minor, and the driver, 23-year-old Martin Campos, also of Long Beach, were arrested for burglary. Both the minor and Mr. Campos were already on probation for burglary, according to police. While investigation continues, Mr. Campos’ bail has been set at $120,000 while Mr. Santiago is being held at $50,000. The minor was sent to Los Padrinos in Downey where he awaits court proceedings.

The incident on Oxford Avenue was the second botched burglary attempt in Claremont this week, according to police. On Thursday, January 24, a resident in the 1400 block of Benedict Avenue received a similar house call and, like Ms. Staples, did not answer. Soon after the knock at the door, the resident heard a noise in the rear of the house as an unknown subject attempted to pry open a window, according to Lt. Vander Veen. The resident was able to activate a house alarm before entry was made. Police were unable to locate the subject. A connection between the 2 incidents is unknown.

Claremont residents were put on further alert the day following the Oxford Avenue burglary when the Los Angeles Times reported that a Times newspaper deliveryman had, over a 3 year period, given burglars a list of subscribers who had placed vacation holds on their subscriptions.

According to the report, a majority of the resulting burglaries took place “along the 210 Freeway in eastern LA County and western San Bernardino County.” More than $100,000 worth of stolen items have been recovered over the past 6 months in connection with burglaries throughout San Gabriel Valley, including Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills. Residents who believe they may have been victim to these crimes are told to call the CPD Detective Bureau at 399-5420, as they are working with detectives from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to identify victims.

In recent months, Claremont police have noted an upturn in the city’s burglaries, which include residential burglaries, auto burglaries and vehicle theft, according to Captain Jon Traber in an interview earlier this month. Despite concerns over increased crime, in a recent letter to the public published the same day as the Oxford Avenue burglary, Chief of Police Paul Cooper insists that crime in Claremont actually remains low. While the city’s Part I crimes, broken up into 2 categories—violent crimes and property crimes—increased 7 percent, or 70 additional crimes in 2012, it remains the fourth lowest level of Part I crimes reported since 1985, according to Chief Cooper.

“To really put things in perspective, in 1985 there were 1,661 Part I crimes or 714 more crimes than last year,” he wrote.

Police ask the help of residents to continue to keep crime down, advising them to lock doors and windows, report suspicious crime and sign up for the police department’s E-Watch electronic mail program and Everbridge mass calling system. Both programs will ensure residents are kept abreast of city crime.

“With the changes to our criminal justice system, I don’t want to see us return to the crime levels of the past, but it will take a concerted effort on the part of everyone,” Mr. Cooper continued. “The men and women in your police department are committed to keeping the Claremont community safe. My door is always open and I welcome any questions or suggestions you may have.”

—Beth Hartnett



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