Three Riverside County men who were arrested Wednesday near Temecula are suspected of stealing more than 25 iPads from an elementary school in San Diego County earlier this week, and two of them are accused of gang ties, prosecutors said Friday.
Eyon Zimmerman, 19, and Thomas Burleson, 21, both of Hemet, and Trevor Williams, 21, of Moreno Valley, are charged with multiple felonies, including burglary, receiving stolen property, and allegations of felonies committed to benefit a criminal street gang.
The three entered not guilty pleas Friday in San Diego Superior Court, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a news release.
Williams and Burleson are documented gang members with ties to the Dorner Blocc Crips of Moreno Valley, according to prosecutors.
Zimmerman, Burleson and Williams were arrested early Wednesday Jan. 30 at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement checkpoint on Interstate 15 south of Temecula, shortly after a burglary at Del Mar Heights Elementary, according to the Border Patrol.
Twenty-nine iPads believed stolen from the school were recovered from the suspects' vehicle, Dumanis said.
In May 2011, Williams and the Dorner Blocc Crips were named by law enforcement in connection with the theft of some $70,000 worth of Apple computers from two schools in Valley Center.
More recently, since November 2012 through Jan. 29 this year, law enforcement agencies have reported a series of 11 burglaries at San Diego County schools in which thieves have stolen 115 Apple laptops and 123 iPads, Dumanis said.
San Diego Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh could not confirm whether a in which thieves allegedly made off with two Mac computers may be connected.
"We are aware of a series (of school burglaries) throughout Southern California," McHugh told Patch. "It is an ongoing investigation; we are working the law enforcement."
Members of the Dorner Blocc Crips have been identified as suspects in the burglary series through the ongoing joint investigation that includes the sheriff's departments of San Diego and Riverside counties, Carlsbad police, the FBI, and a multi-agency Computer and Technology Crimes High Tech Response Team.
"Our investigation is ongoing and more arrests in this case are possible," Dumanis said. "I want to give credit to our C.A.T.C.H. Team and all of the law enforcement agencies who are working cooperatively on these burglaries and their connections to gang activity in Southern California."
If convicted of all the charges filed against them, Zimmerman faces 13 years, Williams faces nine years, and Burleson faces seven years in state prison, Dumanis said.