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Ventura County Sheriff's Office
Thursday December 24th, 2009 :: 05:43 p.m. PST


Detectives from VCSD concluded a two-month investigation into a vehicle burglary ring with the arrest of 5

Narrative: Detectives from the Ojai sub-station and the Sheriff’s Gang Unit concluded a two-month investigation into a vehicle burglary ring with the arrest of five suspects. Investigators believe the group is responsible for at least 30 vehicle burglaries stretching from West Ventura to the City of Ojai.

In October and November, the City of Ojai began experiencing a rash of vehicle burglaries within the city limits. Detectives found that a credit card taken in one of the burglaries was used at an ATM in West Ventura. Detectives obtained a photograph of the individual who used the stolen credit card and on November 30th they identified him as Lee Peyton. Peyton was currently on parole for robbery.

Gang investigators set up a surveillance of Peyton and were able to identify several residences and individuals that he associated with. Investigators also developed other leads that identified Ricardo Gutierrez, Kristen Baker, and Reyes Estrada as being involved in the burglaries.

In December, investigators set up a surveillance of Reyes Estrada and Kristen Baker. On 12-12-2009, investigators watched Estrada and Baker purchase gasoline at a station in Ventura. Investigators later obtained records of that transaction and found they used a stolen credit card from an unreported vehicle burglary in the City of Ventura. Investigators were able to contact the victim in that case who told investigators her purse was stolen from a friend’s car in a downtown Ventura parking lot.

On 12-15-2009, investigators served search warrants at five locations in the Ojai Valley and the City of Oxnard. During a search of Benjamin Kennedy’s residence located in the 400 block of El Roblar, investigators recovered 4 purses that were later identified as being stolen from vehicle burglaries. Investigators also arrested Lee Peyton for violating his parole terms.

On 12-23-2009, investigators arrested Benjamin Kennedy for possession of stolen property. Later that night, investigators located Kristen Baker and Reyes Estrada in a home in the 200 block of West Flint, Ventura. During a subsequent search, investigators recovered stolen credit cards and a driver’s license that were taken from a burglary that occurred in Ventura. Both Estrada and Baker were arrested for burglary and booked into the Ventura County Jail.

On 12-24-2009, investigators had obtained enough evidence to arrest Ricardo Gutierrez for his participation in the burglaries.

Although investigators were only able to recover a small amount of the property taken in the various burglaries, they did collect enough evidence to link the suspects to at least 30 vehicle burglaries. Investigators believe that a majority of the stolen property was sold to various individuals. Investigators are continuing their effort to recover more stolen property.

Investigators are planning to arrest Peyton for numerous counts of vehicle burglary as soon as he is finished serving his time in state prison for violation of his parole terms.

Most of the reported vehicle burglaries involve purses or other valuables that were left in plain sight. Investigators believe that the suspects targeted areas that had a high likelihood of purses being left in cars. These included popular hiking spots, parking areas around nightclubs, and other areas where women were likely to leave purses in a car.

Photos of

Follow-up Contact: Detective Mark Burgess 646-1414

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-654-9511

Craig Mitnick
Nixle Business Development

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