By Nicole Shine/Garden Grove Journal
Burglary victims searched for their stolen possessions Thursday after Garden Grove police put on display goods confiscated from a suspect they call one of the “most prolific” car burglars on record.
Police laid out the belongings, more than 5,000 in all, across dozens of tables in the Garden Grove Community Center. Those who’d come waited in line 30 minutes or more for their turn.
Garden Grove resident Bertha Ceja took her lunch break to sift through the stolen goods, which included piles of purses, nearly $100,000 in cash, five unopened cans of Ensure powdered drink, and a wedding dress. She hoped to find her daughters’ iPhones, purse and laptop.
“Both of my daughters had their cars broken into on the same night in front of my house,” said Ceja, who lives near the corner of Galway Street and Trask.
The suspect, Julio Cesar Pachas, 41, allegedly targeted Garden Grove, Buena Park, Los Alamitos, Anaheim, Westminster and parts of Los Angeles County, police said. In southwest Garden Grove alone, 247 car burglaries have been reported since January 2011.
Tipped off by a victim, police arrested Pachas in October 2012, charging him with second-degree burglary and other counts. An under-age girl also was arrested, and Pachas was charged with sex with a minor
After he made $250,000 bail, police followed him and found a storage site filled with stolen property. They arrested him again on a second count of stolen property in November 2012. Bail again was granted–this time $700,000–although police said they fought it. Pachas’ movement now is being tracked by a GPS-equipped anklet.
While the sheer number of stolen items could influence sentencing, it doesn’t affect the charges, police explained.
“We could have 100 victims, but we’re only going to charge [him] with one count of stolen property,” Sgt. Bob Bogue explained. “If someone IDs the guy, it would be different,” Bogue said, meaning someone would need to see a theft in progress.
Police said they’ve inventoried most of the stolen goods, so there’s no need to keep them. Burglary victims who showed up Thursday were asked to show proof the belongings were theirs.
Bogue said they’ve had some surprising discoveries so far. Little Saigon TV, which came to televise part of the event, found their expensive camera equipment.
“Their car had been broken into and we found their camera here,” Bogue said.
Police have set up an information line for the public at (714) 563-6052.