A Grand Jury has charged 29 suspects with a three-year string of home burglaries. The gang members calling themselves Nortenos were found to have followed several people home after purchasing jewelry from local jewelry stores. They would then case their homes and later break in when the homes were empty.
All 29 defendants – indicted by a criminal grand jury last week – have been charged with felonies.
They face lengthy prison terms if convicted. Arraignments by the District Attorney’s Office were held in Department 24 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
“This was a prolific and well-organized group of criminals who were shattering front doors, windows, and our community’s sense of security,” said prosecutor Sandip Patel. “We would like to thank the San Jose Police Department for piecing together this complex case and bringing this gang to justice.”
It is suspected that the spree of crimes began in 2012, when a number of separate Norteno street gangs decided to band together.
During this time, they began to burglarize homes for money, jewelry, and weapons. Evidence collected at the scenes began to mount in San Jose, Union City, and Hillsborough, leading investigators to the members responsible. It was reported that a number of groups would burglarize multiple homes in a single day. Apparently, on a few occasions, the burglars’ attempts were foiled after discovering residents still in the house.
It is also speculated that on a few occasions, gang members targeted Asian-American and Middle-Eastern families thinking they were more likely to keep jewels and money in their homes.
Evidence showed that the groups would kick down the front door or smash the rear sliding glass doors leading into the home from the backyard. Members would often recruit young minors to enter the residence, knowing that the juveniles would face less serious criminal penalties if caught by police.
San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said, “This department will do everything in its power to make sure residents are safe in their own homes. I’m proud that at the end of this challenging investigation, we are holding a brazen and dangerous criminal gang accountable.”
Anyone with information regarding these crimes is strongly encouraged to contact the San Jose Police Department at (408) 277-8900.