Two Suspects in String of Coin Store Burglaries Arrested

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Two men have been arrested for allegedly committing a string of burglaries at coin and precious metal stores in Southern California and Nevada during a two-month crime spree, authorities said today.

Caleb Jamal Griffin, 20, of Long Beach and Owen Lazaro Thompson, 49, of Las Vegas, were arrested on Sunday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which worked with local law enforcement agencies on the case.

The suspects are the subject of a federal complaint alleging they committed or attempted 21 early-morning burglaries of collectible coin and precious metal stores and a federal firearms licensee, netting more than $292,000 in stolen coins and merchandise, according to an ATF statement.

“An ATF task force comprised of detectives from Brea Police Department and Fullerton Police Department, with the assistance of the Signal Hill Police Department and Huntington Beach Police Department, successfully investigated and identified the suspects responsible for a string of burglaries across Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties in California as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada,” officials said. “The ATF task force conducted extensive surveillance of these subjects across two states leading to the arrests.

Both Griffin and Thompson are charged with interstate transportation of stolen goods, ATF reports.

“Griffin was arrested ... after he was observed burglarizing a coin dealer,” according to ATF. “Thompson was arrested at his residence without incident, and a search warrant executed there resulted in the seizure of suspected stolen merchandise from the crime spree.”

The suspects typically broke glass windows at the front of the stores and used two ropes to yank security gates down, but in one case in Fullerton they drove a vehicle through the front of the store and during another burglary used a blow torch to heat and shatter a store window, authorities allege.

Griffin and Thompson are accused of burglaries at:

-- Fullerton Coins, 123 N. Raymond Ave., Fullerton on July 10 and 14, Aug. 29 and Sept. 29;

-- Tangible Investments, 32001 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach on July 27;

-- Covina Coin & Jewelry, 204 S. Citrus Ave., Covina on July 28;

-- Morgan's Jewelers, 50-C Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates on Aug. 13;

-- Morgan's Jewelers, 22200 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance on Aug. 13;

-- Laguna Coins, 23583 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Woods on Aug. 16;

-- Sahara Coins, 7293 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas on Aug. 18;

-- Liberty Coins, 2201 East Willow St., Signal Hill on Aug. 26;

-- CNC Coins Vault, 1814 N. Tustin Ave., Santa Ana on Aug. 26;

-- Quicksilver Coin Company, 22421 El Toro Road, Lake Forest on Aug. 27;

-- Imperial Pawnbrokers, a federal firearms licensee, 777 W. Imperial Highway, Brea on Aug. 29;

-- Liberty Coins, 2201 East Willow St., Signal Hill on Sept. 1;

-- Liberty Coin, 10122 Ave., Huntington Beach on Sept. 8;

-- Las Vegas Coin Company, 9555 S. Eastern Ave., Las Vegas on Sept. 17;

-- Alhambra Coin Center, 254 E. Main St., Alhambra on Sept. 21;

-- Hough Coin, 16816-D Main St., Hesperia on Sept. 24;

The suspects are also accused of attempted burglaries at:

-- About Face Coins, 475 N. Tustin St., Orange on Aug. 4;

-- Liberty Coin, 10122 Ave., Huntington Beach on Aug. 11.

Photo: Getty Images

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