WEST VALLEY CITY — Four adults and two teens suspected of being involved in a major burglary ring for nearly a year were rounded up and charged Wednesday.
The group was charged in 3rd District Court in connection with more than 30 residential burglaries dating back to May of 2013, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in property. West Valley Deputy Police Chief Mike Powell said the group is suspected in more than 50 burglaries around the county.
Christian Salgado, 27, Brian Calvo-Perdomo, 20, Oscar Santos, 18, and Jose Nunez, 20, were charged in 3rd District Court with 17 counts ranging from racketeering, a first-degree felony, and numerous counts of burglary, theft by receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. Two juveniles, whose names were not released, were also arrested and charged in juvenile court.
They focused on stealing mostly high dollar items during the day when residents weren't home, Powell said. The burglars typically entered homes by breaking a window or kicking in a back door, according to the charges.
According to investigators, Santos told them that he would first knock on the front door of a home and if no one answered, he would go around to the back and break in. Proceeds from the burglaries would then be used for gas so he could go out and burglarize more homes, according to the charges.
The charges list a cache of items stolen during that time, including video game systems, flat screen TVs, cameras, jewelry, power tools, guns, iPads and iPods. Powell said the group mainly focused on high-end electronics and jewelry.
One of the teens told detectives that he specifically looked for video games and electronics to steal "to sell to kids at school," according to charging documents. He also stated that he specifically targeted the Latina community because they keep "lots of gold jewelry on hand," the charges state.
Nunez told detectives after his arrest, "You think we'd be rich with all the stuff we've taken," but then added, "Don't have much to show for it," according to charging documents.
Powell said the group stole items mainly to support their drug habits.
Police were looking for a seventh suspect on Wednesday, but Powell said that person was an accessory and is not expected to face racketeering charges.
As of Wednesday, the majority of items stolen had been returned to their owners, he said.
The big break for police came in December when a resident noticed suspicious looking people in a house where the homeowner usually worked during the day, Powell said. Officers responded and arrested one of the adults and one of the juveniles. After those arrests, burglaries in West Valley dropped by 20 percent, Powell said.
He expects the number of burglaries in the county to drop significantly thanks to Wednesday's arrests.
Powell said the investigation was a joint effort between his department, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, Unified police, the state Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division and Immigration and Naturalization Service.