Burglary Rampage Results In Five Juvenile Arrests

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Five juveniles were arrested Monday in connection with the burglaries of 35 homes in the Tonto Village, Mead's Ranch, Thompson Draw and Long Ranch areas, sheriff's deputies said.

The juveniles, boys and girls ages 12 to 15, were charged with burglary and criminal damage.

"About $10,000 in stolen property has been recovered so far," Gila County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brian Havey said. "We also estimate that at one house alone, in Diamond Point, they did about $8,000 worth of damage."

The suspects entered the homes by breaking windows and going through unlocked doors. Three of the juveniles are local; the other two are from the Phoenix area

"The two from the Valley would come up on weekends and join the other three," Havey said.

Havey and GCSO Detective George Ratliff, who are heading the investigation, said more juveniles could be involved.

"As the investigation goes on we are gaining more names," Havey said.

The cost of the damage and the dollar value of the stolen property continue to rise.

"It is still being totaled and a final figure will not be known until all the homeowners have been contacted," Havey said.

Some of the items that were stolen are irreplaceable even if insured.

"There are some family heirlooms missing and we'll continue to search for them," Havey said.

Four all-terrain vehicles, which detectives believe were used by the youths to travel throughout the rural area, were among the stolen items recovered.

Homeowners, who were missing belongings and whose homes were damaged during the heists, tipped off the GCSO.

Deputies uncovered their first lead after conducting door-to-door interviews, said Havey, which led them to two juvenile suspects who took them to several of the crime scenes and led them to stolen property.

"Some of the property was found in the forests, some of it they took home," he said.

The detectives lauded the cooperation they received from the parents of the juveniles.

"It was quite exceptional the way they helped us," Havey said "They also had no idea this was going on."

Although the motives for the crime spree were unclear, Havey believed that it was a case of the "boys showing off for the girls and then they all got caught up in what was going on."

Because the suspects are minors, their parents may be held financially responsible for the damages and thefts.

The juveniles are now in the custody of their parents.

When the investigation is complete, the results will be turned over to Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores for prosecution.

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