Police investigation: Trio of suspects burglarized 11 vehicles in two months | June 28, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 28, 2019

Police investigation: Trio of suspects burglarized 11 vehicles in two months

by Kevin Forestieri

Mountain View police arrested three men June 18 following an investigation into what detectives believe was a lengthy smash-and-grab operation. The men allegedly used multiple rental cars and false license plates to throw off police and are suspected of burglarizing 11 vehicles throughout Santa Clara County.

The primary suspect in the case, 39-year-old Oakland resident Marcus Anigilaje, allegedly worked with a team targeting vehicles in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and San Jose. In some cases, victims reported more than $1,000 in personal belongings had been stolen.

Anigilaje, along with 25-year-old Troy Collins of Sacramento and 29-year-old Paul Edwards of Oakland, were intercepted by police while traveling on San Antonio Road and arrested on Tuesday, June 18. They remain in Santa Clara County jail.

The investigation launched in late April, when one of the victims captured video surveillance of his car being burglarized in a downtown Mountain View parking lot. The external cameras on his Tesla were in what's called "Sentry Mode," and show two men driving into the lot, checking cars with a flashlight and smashing the driver's side window of the Tesla before fleeing.

After passing around the footage to surrounding law enforcement agencies, a detective from the Oakland Police Department identified the two men as Anigilaje and Collins. Oakland police were familiar with both men, and Anigilaje was on parole at the time, according to police reports.

Call records obtained by Mountain View police show Anigilaje's phone was used to make a phone call within a mile of the downtown parking lot around the time the Tesla was burglarized, which was used as corroborating evidence.

Among the valuable information from the Tesla's footage was the vehicle used in the crime — a white Jaguar suspected of being involved in "numerous" auto burglaries since March. Police later discovered that the car was one of four rental cars used by Anigilaje to allegedly conduct the burglaries between April and June. The rental cars were swapped out every few weeks, according to investigative reports.

The rentals were used by Anigilaje but were rented from Hertz by a third party, a Sacramento woman who exchanged frequent phone calls with Anigilaje, according to police. By the time a Mountain View police detective traveled to Sacramento to her home address, she had already traded in the white Jaguar for a red Cadillac CTS, which was rented between May 3 and May 24 and parked in front of the house.

A vehicle that appeared to be a red Cadillac was used in a smash-and-grab burglary in San Jose on May 6, when a man matching the description of Anigilaje broke into a Ford Fusion and stole a backpack containing a laptop and other belongings. On May 20, Anigilaje was arrested by the Roseville Police Department for DUI while driving the same vehicle, police said.

The Sacramento woman later swapped out the Cadillac for a white Lincoln MKC, which was spotted in front of her home on May 27. A vehicle matching that description was involved in at least two burglaries in the days that followed, one in Santa Clara and one in San Jose. The Santa Clara Police Department reported that the suspects were using a tactic known as "cold plating," where license plates from another vehicle are used to throw off police.

During that time, Anigilaje allegedly broke into a Jeep and stole an iPad, a laptop, a Nintendo Switch, car keys, prescription glasses, a Bluetooth headset, a U.S. passport and a cellphone charging device from inside the vehicle.

In the final leg of the burglary operation, police believe Anigilaje used a fourth rental car, a black Infiniti Q50, in a burglary spree, allegedly breaking into six different vehicles on June 14. Officers from Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Los Altos began covert surveillance of the vehicle and monitored the three men as they traveled throughout Santa Clara County.

In the hours leading up to the arrest in Mountain View on June 18, the trio is suspected of breaking into a Chevy Cruze in San Jose before driving north toward Los Altos, police said.

During the arrest, officers reported locating two "glass breaking" tools, an HP laptop, and the two license plates belonging to the Infiniti inside the vehicle. Anigilaje was arrested on suspicion of numerous felonies including seven burglary charges, grand theft and knowingly receiving stolen property, which includes the purchase of the incorrect license plates.

Edwards was arrested on suspicion of burglary and receiving stolen property. He had previously been convicted of two felony burglaries in Santa Clara County, and was convicted in Alameda County Superior Court for assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

Collins was arrested on suspicion of felony burglary and receiving stolen property. He also has a criminal history for voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm as a felon. He had four warrants for his arrest from the Mountain View Police Department and the sheriff's offices of Solano, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

In a statement shortly after the arrests, Lt. Frank St. Clair of the Mountain View Police Department praised the cross-agency cooperation to investigate and eventually apprehend men suspected of a string of burglaries in the region. More than six agencies were involved, according to the investigative report.

Throughout the police reports, officers note that Mountain View, Sunnyvale and other neighboring cities are dealing with an increase in auto burglaries in recent years. Detective Clyde Cheng of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, who was integrally involved in the investigation, wrote in an incident report that Santa Clara County has "historically been victimized" by burglars working in crews that frequently operate out of the East Bay.

Mountain View police say there were 622 reported auto burglaries in Mountain View in 2018, the highest number in at least a decade. With more than 500 reported burglaries so far in 2019, the city is on pace for a staggering 60% increase this year.

Email Kevin Forestieri at kforestieri@mv-voice.com

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