Santa Clara County sheriff's detectives Monday were trying to trace several stolen items back to their owners after arresting six people in connection with a series of vehicle break-ins in Cupertino.
Authorities believe the suspects had already hit at least 14 cars when they were caught at an apartment complex on Wolfe Road. There were two groups of burglars working the area, possibly together, and definitely working fast, sheriff's officials said.
Crime scene images taken Sunday show a stolen car used in a series of vehicle break-ins off Pruneridge Avenue as well as the suspect vehicle used in another string of car burglaries around Stevens Creek Boulevard.
Three adults and three minors were arrested.
One arresting deputy, Jason Vega, said investigators are trying to see if there is a connection between the groups.
"It’s not uncommon for groups to cooperate with each other to burglarize vehicles," Vega said. "There are burglary gangs known to us within the area."
In one incident, suspects were seen by security officers at the Ariosa Apartments while the others were spotted at a business parking lot then tried to run and hide. They eventually surrendered.
Vega acknowledges the witnesses were a fortunate break because the thieves were moving quickly.
"You smash a window, take anything that’s in plain sight," Vega said. "That’s anywhere from 30 seconds to under a minute."
Deputies reported finding numerous stolen credit cards, IDs, phones, checkbooks and other electronics. They are trying to track down owners of the stolen items and plan to check the suspects' homes for more merchandise.
The arrests will also trigger more enforcement.
"Yes, our deputies are definitely increasing patrol checks in these hot-spot areas where we do have a lot of vehicle break-ins," sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Mike Low said. "In addition to that, we do have some plainclothes or unmarked deputies that may be cruising around these parking lots to try to catch these suspects."
Stopping these types of serial break-ins is high priority in Cupertino, where statistics show the trend is for the city to have about 27% more vehicle burglaries than last year.