The five men, 44-year-old Alceu John Andreis, 32-year-old Lucian Gabriel Isaia, 45-year-old Dean Andrew Muniz, 38-year-old Laurentiu Penescu and 36-year-old Daniel Soto, are accused of pocketing $6 million from three banks and using the money to live a lavish lifestyle. According to detectives, the suspects did it without holding up a single bank teller.
"This is one of the most sophisticated and well-organized operations that we have ever come across," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Baca said the suspects burglarized the banks at night. An East West bank in Rowland Heights was the first target. The sheriff said the suspects would climb onto the roof, equipped with a sonar stud finder to locate the vault, a circular saw to cut a hole in the roof, and materials to patch the hole after they pulled off the heist.
"So when they removed parts of the roof to assess where the vault was, they could replace that part of the roof and have the appearance from air that the roof was fully intact," said Baca.
Detectives said the suspects set off the burglar alarms, but when officers arrived on scene, there were no signs of forced entry and they couldn't see the suspects on the roof.
After a Preferred Bank in Diamond Bar was hit last year, investigators found one suspect's DNA at the scene. Over the last several months, they set up surveillance and watched the group case bank locations. Then last Friday, detectives said the five suspects brought their tools to a Citi Bank in Diamond Bar.
"They penetrated the roof of the bank, exposing the vault. However, [they] were going to come back possibly the following night to actually do the vault," said Det. Nick Cannis with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The men were arrested before they could finish the job. Detectives believe other banks may have been burglarized. The five suspects are back behind bars, where some of them met while serving time for similar crimes.