Sheriff’s detectives from the Major Crimes Bureau are looking for victims whose houses were burglarized while they were on vacation and had instructed the Los Angeles Times to hold delivery of their newspapers while they were gone.
Investigators believe that Duane Van Tuinen, 51, of Azusa obtained the vacation lists and passed them on to a group of thieves, including Randall Whitmore, 43, of La Verne, Joshua Box, 43, of Arcadia and Edwin Valentine, 52, of Covina. The suspects would visit the addresses on the lists and steal valuables while the residents vacationed. More than 25 burglaries from San Gabriel Valley cities, Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut and Chino Hills have been confirmed as a part of the conspiracy.
Van Tuinen was an office machine repairman, contracted by distributors of the Los Angeles Times to repair office machines. Once inside of the businesses, Investigators believe that he repeatedly stole lists of Los Angeles Times newspaper subscribers who were on vacation. Van Tuinen passed them on to the suspects who carried out the burglaries. Van Tuinen would share in the stolen property and ultimately sell it for profit.
The investigation led Metro detectives to a West Covina storage locker where, last Thursday, detectives located and recovered hundreds of pieces of stolen property from dozens of residential burglaries. Since that recovery, investigators have researched the traceable property and identified several victims.
“Although much of the stolen property has been returned to the rightful owners, we are still trying to locate additional victims,” said Detective Jack Jordan of the Major Crimes Bureau.
Detectives have recovered collectible coins, musical instruments, collectible swords, computers and jewelry from the suspects’ homes, cars and the storage locker.
The investigation was a joint effort involving several southland agencies, including the Glendora, Arcadia, Chino Hills, Monrovia and San Marino Police Departments.
Charges are pending against the involved suspects. Investigators are attempting to locate as many victims as possible and to identify all of the burglaries committed by the suspects by tracing the stolen property.
Persons who had placed themselves on the L.A. Times vacation list and were subsequently burglarized are encouraged to contact LASD Detective Jack Jordan at (562) 946-7893. Be prepared to supply the police report number from the burglary and a description of the items stolen.