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Jewel Thief Knocks Off House, Second in Neighborhood

Could Rancho Santa Margarita have a serial thief in its midst after a second house is stripped of its jewels? The crook evades police after homeowner walks in on the heist.

A thief escaped from a Rancho Santa Margarita neighborhood on Monday, eluding patrol officers, a K-9 unit and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.

The real news, though, might be that RSM may have a motivated jewel thief in its midst.

In the last two weeks, someone has knocked off two residences in the same vicinity, the streets separated by 21 houses.

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Lt. Brian Schmutz, chief of police services in Rancho Santa Margarita, said the crime is still under investigation and OCSD investigators are not yet sure if the incidents are connected.

"Traditionally, burglars don't just burglarize one house, usually they're responsible for several," Schmutz said. "We're unsure at this point if this is connected to any other crimes."

The action on Tuesday went down at 12:59 p.m., when a resident returned home to his Mandevilla address and opened the door on a burglary in progress.

The suspect, described as a white male between 20 and 30 years old, broke the back window of the home and hopped the backyard fence toward the Lantana cul-de-sac.

The man was wearing a white t-shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes.

The victim confirmed the loss of jewelry.

It’s the second time in less than two weeks that someone has entered an unoccupied RSM home and absconded with jewels.

On Oct. 7, a resident returned home from Las Vegas to discover jewels and medication, valued at $42,000, was stolen from his home on Via Ulmaria.

The burglary Tuesday occurred in the neighborhood adjacent to the north of the Via Ulmaria burglary between Las Flores and Plano Trabuco Road. The neighborhood is east of Trabuco Mesa Elementary School.

Anyone who may have clues or witnessed the suspect can call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-0227) or by going online at occrimestoppers.com.

Dawn Hill October 18, 2012 at 02:44 PM
There have been dozens of break in's among the neighborhoods off Las Flores between Santa Margarita Pkwy and Antonio just in the last month. Somehow, the word needs to get out there. 2 home invasions in my neighborhood alone!
Gary October 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
About 2-yrs ago our neighborhood experienced a burglar entering homes through unlocked doors & windows. The burglar cased the neighborhood several times before the actual day of the thefts noting which homes regularly had open doors/windows, which had alarm systems and which did not, and commonalities of when homes were vacant and when occupied. Once he accumulated this info, he returned and swept through the neighborhood making his way from home to home through back yards and over rear fences, knowing exactly which homes he could safely hit and which to avoid. He stashed the stolen items after each home so as not to have pockets full of items in case he was observed by residence. He accessed over 6-homes in a very short time frame with the thefts not being discovered until he had fled. He was later identified by a neighbor who witnessed him in a neighbor's backyard where after questioning, he claimed he was looking to see if the dog at that residence was his dog as his dog had gotten away earlier that morning. As it turned out, the young thief (14-16yrs old and a student at Trabuco Hills High School) was later arrested. It was discovered the young thief was providing the stolen items to two young men (early 20's) who were observed at Lake RSM bay a different neighbor appearing suspicious with pockets bulging of jewelry. I and many of my neighbors now utilize rods in all open slider windows and doors preventing them from opening more than a few inches. This prevents access.
Martin Henderson (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Thanks for the story, Gary. That's a good idea about the rods. Everyone needs to keep their eyes peeled for suspicious behavior, although crooks tend to try to blend in, but people who are out of place in the neighborhood.
Danny Jones October 18, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Does anyone think these thefts could be the fault of section 8 housing? I remember about 5 years ago leaving the car keys in the car, with the windows down overnight and not worrying about it. Now I'm scared up leave anything open, because if I shoot a thief, I'd probably get sued and thrown in jail......
Father of 3 October 21, 2012 at 02:52 AM
True, but only if they find the body. Touch my stuff, you die. It will send a message to the other scum sucking thieves.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook October 26, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Our City needs to return our RSM Police Department to full former levels! See my website. www.larry4rsm.com
Randy J. November 05, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Make that 3 houses. My house was broken into on Halloween Day. My wife came home to find our master bedroom, and office trashed. All of her jewelry is gone, and my iPad and a pair of Oakleys. Suspect(s) threw a brick into the dining room window. One neighbor saw a small black car in our driveway sometime between 10am and 12 noon. That neighbor thought it was my wife because she drives a small black car so he didn't pay much attention to the make and model, just thought she was home when she normally is not around that time. Everyone keep your eyes out, someone is targeting RSM for sure.
Martin Henderson (Editor) November 05, 2012 at 04:29 AM
What street are you on, Randy?
Randy J. November 05, 2012 at 06:55 AM
Santa Elena.

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