Crime - Sacto 911

Members of Davis burglary ring convicted of 78 felonies

Three Bay Area residents have been have been found guilty of 78 felonies related to a series of 2013 burglaries targeting homes in the city of Davis and UC Davis dorm rooms.

Following a four-month trial, a Yolo County jury on Monday convicted 26-year-old Joseph Hernandez and 25-year-old Rakhem Bradford, both of Pinole, and 25-year-old Joshua Givens of Benecia of involvement in a burglary ring. The 78 felonies included two counts of conspiracy, 28 residential burglaries, seven counts of receiving stolen property, and possession of marijuana for sale. Hernandez also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun and ammunition, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office news release..

The lengthy investigations that led to the arrests involved three law enforcement agencies. Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel, reported that after the three suspects were arrested, home burglaries in the city decreased 54 percent and have not increased since then, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

An unusually high number of residential burglaries were reported in 2013 in the city of Davis and in the Cuarto Housing area, consisting of three dormitory buildings, on the UC Davis campus. The burglaries in the student housing targeted MacBook Pro laptop computers, TVs and gaming systems, the news release said.

UC Davis police investigated the student housing burglaries. Video surveillance footage of the dorms showed a female and male hanging around and looking into windows as if they were “casing” the units, the news release said. The female eventually was identified as Esther Kwon and the male as Hernandez. Kwon told law enforcement officers about several other burglaries committed by Hernandez and people working with him.

At the same time, Davis police began investigating a series of burglaries in the city. That investigation focused on residents of a home on Drexel Drive after an iPhone stolen in a burglary “pinged” back to that address, where Hernandez, Givens and Bradford lived.

On Nov. 22, 2013, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, in an unrelated investigation, served a search warrant at the Drexel Drive address after a laptop stolen from a vehicle in Davis “pinged” to that residence. Photographs taken inside the home showed possible stolen property from several of the Davis burglaries, the news release said.

Sheriff’s investigators also located a short-barreled shotgun and shells in a dresser in Hernandez’s bedroom closet. Hernandez was prohibited from having a gun because of a prior conviction for residential burglary.

Davis police prepared search warrants for the Drexel home and a home on Cowell Boulevard after learning that Hernandez, Givens and Bradford had been living at the Drexel address and that Hernandez had moved to the Cowell home. Property stolen in another residential burglary, including a MacBook and prescription medication, were located in Hernandez’s bedroom.

When Davis police searched the Drexel home where Givens and Bradford were living, they found property stolen during several other burglaries, including TVs, a laptop computer, an Xbox 360 gaming console and various games, a watch, prescription medication, a large quantity of marijuana and an airsoft rifle, the news release said.

Another search, at a home on Drew Circle, Hernandez’s new residence in January 2014, turned up additional stolen property.

On Dec. 23, 2013, in an interview with Davis police, Kwon implicated Hernandez and Givens in several residential burglaries, the news release said.

Cellphones belonging to Kwon, Hernandez, Givens and Bradford were seized and searched, revealing photos and text messages linking them to burglaries and indicating that Hernandez, Givens and Bradford were working together to steal property, primarily MacBooks, from residences to sell for profit, according to the news release.

Kwon agreed to a plea bargain in exchange for testifying against the other defendants.

Hernandez, Givens and Bradford are to be sentenced Nov. 13 by Yolo Superior Court Judge David W. Reed.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy