Alleged Burglars Hit Newspaper Subscribers
(LOS ANGELES) -- Four men have been arrested on suspicion of burglarizing the homes of Los Angeles Times subscribers who put a vacation stop on their newspaper delivery, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Police say Duane Van Tuinen, an office repairman contracted by the newspaper, repeatedly stole lists of the newspaper's subscribers and passed them on to three other men, who burglarized more than 25 homes in Southern California while residents were away.
Van Tuinen, 51, arrested Wednesday, would share in the property and ultimately sell it for profit, police said.
Randall Whitmore, 43, Joshua Box, 43, and Edwin Valentine, 52, were also arrested in connection with the alleged burglary ring. The eight-month long investigation led Metro Detectives to a West Covina, Calif., storage locker where detectives last Thursday located and recovered hundreds of pieces of stolen property worth more than $100,000, according to police.
Police said they recovered collectible coins, musical instruments, collectible swords, computers, jewelry and even someone's coffee pot.
Since the discovery of the storage locker, investigators have identified several victims.
Charges are pending against the four men who remain in police custody.
"The Los Angeles Times was contacted several months ago about criminal activity, which may have been linked to subscriber delivery information," company spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said in a statement. "We continuously review and upgrade our policies and systems to protect and best serve our customers."
The paper will no longer share vacation information with distributors, Sullivan said.
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