San Mateo County investigators say a PetSmart worker was using information about families boarding their dogs at the San Carlos store's "PetsHotel" to prey on them while they were away.
Now, a couple is behind bars after investigators linked them to multiple residential burglaries -- a crime spree prosecutors say was made possible by the wife's knowledge of vacant homes through her job boarding dogs at the PetSmart store.
Ashley Kirk and Juan Ortega-Ramos, both 24-year-old San Jose residents, were rearrested in Discovery Bay on Monday after a five-month investigation by San Mateo County sheriff's detectives, spokeswoman Rebecca Rosenblatt said.
The pair had initially been arrested in connection with the case in September but had not been charged.
Rosenblatt said the couple would identify a vacant home after a dog was checked in at the pet store, and allegedly committed numerous residential burglaries, stealing electronics, jewelry, and in one instance a silver Porsche 991S from a Portola Valley home.
“Obviously, knowing they wouldn't be there, their dogs wouldn't be there, these were prime opportunities for burglars,” Rosenblatt said.
San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said an arrest warrant was issued for the couple on Jan. 8 and they were taken back into custody on Monday.
They have each been charged with eight counts of residential burglary, two counts of auto theft and one count of possession of stolen property, Guidotti said. Both were in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The two will return to court on Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. for a preliminary hearing in front of Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert.
Kirk and Ortega-Ramos remain in custody on $500,000 bail each.
Kirk no longer works for PetSmart. In a statement, the retailer said, "We fully cooperated with the authorities throughout their investigation, and we reached out to every pet parent impacted to see how we could help them during this time."
Bay City News contributed to this report.