Update: Another suspect turns himself in to police Monday night in connection with string of home burglaries.
After what Morgan Hill Police describe as aggressive police work, three suspects have been arrested for conspiracy and burglary in a rash of residential burglaries this summer.
The arrests come less than a week after MHPD advised the public of an uptick in the amount of home burglaries recently. Sixteen homes have been burglarized between June 1 and July 23.
Much of the stolen property has been or will be returned to the victims of the burglaries, according to MHPD.
Three suspects - Sean Wright, 19, and Anegekuh Fonjah, 19, and another male juvenile - appear to have been working together on at least five home burglaries.
“We believe they were the burglary ring associated with several of these burglaries this summer,” MHPD Sgt. Shane Palsgrove said Tuesday.
Based on information MHPD had, the suspects’ car was identified and they were pulled over on Main Street and Hale Avenue by one of MHPD’s newest officers Kathleen Price around 2 p.m. July 17. Inside their vehicle was stolen property: electronic equipment such as TVs, laptops and Play Stations and jewelry. Palsgrove said no weapons were stolen during the string of at least five burglaries that Wright, Fonjah and the juvenile are tied to.
Neither men have been arrested for burglary in the past. Wright has never been arrested and Fonjah has a petty theft arrest out of Arizona.
Most of the home burglaries that involved suspects Wright, Fonjah and a juvenile were concentrated between Llagas Avenue and East Main Avenue and occurred at single family homes, not apartments. Here's a list of the streets where the break-ins occurred: Oak Grove Drive, Adair Court, Villa Navona, Via Vivaldi and Cabernet Circle.
Two other suspects have been identified in at least one residential burglary in the area of Woodland Estates on West Middle Avenue around 12:40 p.m. July 22. The two cases do not appear to be related, Palsgrove said.
Two officers responded to a burglar alarm in the neighborhood and saw a suspicious blue Ford Taurus unoccupied parked on the side of the road nearby. Neighbors spotted two men running from the area toward the Taurus, which took off. Police used a license plate reader (that was purchased by the Community Law Enforcement Foundation) to capture photos of the car and identified Zachary Knight, 20 of San Jose, as the owner and have named Stephen Maciel 21 of San Jose, as his accomplice.
Knight turned himself in Monday night to Morgan Hill police. His accomplice Maciel remains at large as of Tuesday afternoon.
When asked if it's common to see people from out of town arrested for burglaries, Palsgrove gave a resounding "absolutely."
“Oh yeah, we get hit all the time. People come from Watsonville, San Jose, Gilroy, Oakland even. They stop by and go and shopping at other people’s houses,” Palsgrove said.
He said police believe Knight and Maciel may be responsible for other home burglaries recently. It's possible a third suspect or group of suspects - unrelated to these two groups - are responsible for the remainder of the break-ins.
Morgan Hill Police encourage the community to continue to call the police when and if they see suspicious people in their neighborhoods and to secure their property when left unattended.
MHPD’s Crime Analyst Margarita Balagso and property crimes Detective Scott Martin provided officers with information on trends, patterns and evident surrounding each burglary. Price used the information to identify the suspects who have been tied to at least four burglaries.
Detectives were able to recover stolen property from search warrants served at their Morgan Hill residences. Detectives are still sorting through the stolen property and comparing it with other unsolved burglaries.
Anyone with information regarding the burglaries or believe they may also be a victim, please call the Morgan Hill Police Department Detective Scott Martin at 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at 947-STOP (7867).