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Alleged LensCrafters smash-and-grab burglars may have hit third store

October 3, 2012 |  9:40 am

Authorities identified the three men suspected of stealing high-end sunglasses from two Orange County LensCrafters stores early Wednesday, and said they might be responsible for a third burglary.

Kyle Ochoa, 19, of Claremont; Thomas Mackinlay, 23, of Hacienda Heights; and Justin Valdepena, 23, of Whittier, were in custody Wednesday morning as investigators tried to sort out details of the case, said Brea police Sgt. Jim Griffin.

The first burglary occurred about 1:30 a.m. at a LensCrafters on Jamboree Road in Irvine, where a front window was smashed and more than 400 pairs of sunglasses worth more than $20,000 were stolen, said Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen.

Workers nearby saw the suspects and called police, Engen said. Irvine authorities put out a countywide bulletin, alerting other law enforcement agencies to the incident.

After hearing the alert, a Brea police officer went to the LensCrafters store at 1040 East Imperial Highway and set up surveillance "from a distance away," Griffin said. The officer watched as a dark-colored car matching the description broadcast by Irvine police pulled up directly in front of the store, he said.

Two suspects got out of the car, smashed a window and started taking glasses from the store, Griffin said. The officer approached in his car, at which point the suspects got back in their car and drove off.

A short chase ensued as the suspects drove northbound on the 57 Freeway before pulling over on Diamond Bar Boulevard, Griffin said. Two of the suspects were arrested at the car; the third fled on foot but was taken into custody soon after, he said.

The officer saw a "substantial amount of sunglasses" in the vehicle, Griffin said. Detectives from Brea and Irvine were investigating, along with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators were also looking into whether the suspects were responsible for a similar burglary reported in Lake Forest about 1:40 a.m., Griffin said.

Griffin and Engen praised the Brea police officer who caught the suspects.

"That's just great police work," Engen said. "He was paying attention."

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-- Kate Mather

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