THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- Five suspected Los Angeles street gang members were arrested in connection to a burglary ring targeting homes across the Southland.
One woman and four men were arrested, ranging in age from 19 to 22. Two more men are still outstanding.
This burglary crew is suspected of hitting at least six homes in Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and other areas of Ventura County as well as parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties, authorities said.
In Ventura County, thieves have been targeting restaurants and retail shops as well - but the biggest problem surrounds a "disturbing trend" of home burglaries, Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Pentis said at a Thursday news conference.
The thieves use websites like Zillow to find affluent and upscale properties to target, Pentis said.
In one incident, the homeowners were home at the time of the break-in and were physically assaulted by the suspects, investigators said.
The undersheriff urged residents to remain on guard and to alert authorities if they see suspicious activity.
"The crime prevention message here is so important: lock your doors, lock your cars, because it's crime of opportunity," he said.
Pentis also said the thieves appear to be doing surveillance to keep tabs on the whereabouts of homeowners.
"They're in our area. They're doing surveillance before they do their burglaries. We need to be aware. We need to call the local law enforcement. We need to give descriptions. We need to look out for our neighbors," he said.
The thieves tend to target homes with adjoined open spaces like a horse trail, bike trail or a greenbelt, Pentis added.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department has enlisted the help of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to bust such burglary rings.
Alleged gang members arrested amid alarming trend of home burglaries in SoCal
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