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Police nab 55 suspected burglars, ask public to ID stolen goods

Gold earrings, diamond studs, wedding rings and designer watches sparkled like a jeweler’s cabinet at a shopping mall — and there’s more where that came from, police said.

On Tuesday,  Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Matt Plugge displayed more than 11,000 stolen items at the Valley Bureau headquarters,  showing them off more like a high-end jeweler than a law enforcement official.

Plugge said he is now seeking to reunite some pieces with their rightful owners.

“They come from hundreds of homes,” Plugge said. “It is not so much the value here but that sentimental value. We’re talking wedding rings, pieces of family jewelry with all the emotions attached. These are special items to someone.”

The valuables were stolen in hundreds of so-called knock-knock burglaries  in which the brazen thieves would knock on the door and bust in when no one answered. They could ransack the home for valuables in a few minutes.

As the San Fernando Valley and L.A.’s Westside saw a surge  in home burglaries early this year, authorities created a task force to help catch the crafty crooks.

Investigators have arrested more than 55 suspected burglars and more than a dozen alleged associates, including two suspected fences who knowingly bought the stolen merchandise, Det. Joe Esquivel said.

About 50 people have come forward to identify their items since images were placed on the LAPD website.

“We are asking people to contact us and provide some proof it is their item,” Plugge said.

That would include a police report, appraisal, a receipt or a picture of them wearing it.

Photos of the property can be found at www.lapdonline.org. Type “fence burglaries” into the search box and a link will appear to the hundreds of photos. If you see a piece that is yours, send an email to lapdvctf@lapd.lacity.org or call (818) 644-8091.

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-- Richard Winton

 
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