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Thieves strike Santa Ana jewelry business twice in a week

October 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Santa Ana family jewelry business was hit twice by burglars within one week in September. In the most recent theft, $100,000 worth of jewelry was taken.

Police say burglars stole $100,000 worth of gold jewelry from the Vargas family business located at the Santa Ana Mini Mall. Photos show how the thieves entered through the roof of the indoor swap meet, sawing through the ceiling. The burglars then cut through the wall of a neighboring vendor..to reach the Vargas' safe.

Leslie Vargas says 12 years of hard work are is gone, along with money needed not only to pay bills, but to send her to college.

It's the second time the Vargases were hit in less than a week. The first time was on September 17. Police allege 43-year-old Pedro Lugo and 28-year-old Jesus Garfias entered the same way, through the mall roof, and stole about $200,000 worth of gold jewelry from three businesses. Santa Ana police arrested the men near the mall and recovered the jewelry.

"We believe that they're picking on businesses like this because they can go to these 'buy my gold' places, they can melt down the gold and they get a lot of money that way," said Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna.

Police suspect a ring of thieves is involved who case the mall first to learn the layout. Police say the burglars entered the second time, where sensors could not detect them.

There are security cameras, but police say they weren't working because the entire surveillance system was ripped out during the first burglary.

The Vargases have no insurance. They hope anyone with information calls Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.


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