CHINO HILLS, Calif. - Chino Hills police have recovered more than $200,000 in stolen property. Now they're trying to find the rightful owners.
They're also trying to figure out why the alleged thief, 36-year old Mark Ellis of Chino, stole all of it in the first place.
"He was collecting this property, and he was actually just storing it," said Sgt. Randy Naquin of the Chino Hills Police Department.
A storage room in Chino Hills contains all of the property, which includes iPhones, iPads, laptops, computers, sports memorabilia, stereo equipment, passports, driver's licenses and more.
"We just want to make sure the victims get their property back," said Naquin.
Detectives said they broke the case when a deputy pulled Ellis over for a minor traffic violation and they discovered stolen property inside his car. Their investigation then led them to six storage units in Montclair filled with stolen property.
Detectives said they believe Ellis has been a serial burglar since at least 2006.
"This guy has definitely been in business for quite a long time," said Naquin. "He was actually renting U-Haul (trucks) to commit the burglaries."
Naquin said Ellis stole from homes, businesses, and even schools. He's accused of burglaries in Chino Hills, Chino, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Tracy, Walnut, Los Angeles, Fontana, Ontario and Las Vegas, Nevada.
But there's a big question for detectives -- why did he do it? Naquin said there's no clear motive.
"We don't have confirmation that he was selling anything," said Naquin. "The fact that there were six units full of property kind of tells us the guy was some kind of a hoarder -- that he was collecting this property, and he was actually just storing it."
Naquin could only shake his head at some of the other items that were recovered. Things like mops and brooms, buckets, and floor mats for cars.
"I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist to determine what kind of problem this guy has, but he was stealing anything he could get his hands on," he said.
If you recognize any of the items, you're asked to call Chino Hills police at (909) 364-2000.