Police in California have found the culprit behind a string of burglaries— now they’re looking for the victims, authorities said.
A deputy in Chino Hills, about 35 miles outside LA, pulled over Mark Ellis for a minor traffic violation earlier this month, ABC 7 reported, and found stolen property inside his car, authorities said. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Detectives later found more than $200,000 worth of stolen goods stored in six storage units in Montclair, authorities said, the Chino Champion reported. Authorities determined Ellis had taken items from homes, vehicles, businesses and schools in Chino Hills, Chino, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other cities, the Orange County Register reported.
They believe he had been stealing items since at least 2006, ABC 7 said, and using U-Haul trucks to do it.
"This guy has definitely been in business for quite a long time," said Chino Hills police Sgt. Randy Naquin.
But police say Ellis, 36, of Chino, doesn’t appear to have sold much, if any, of the property, the Orange County Register reported. Ellis was either stealing “for the love of the theft, or he was stealing for the thrill of the theft,” Naquin told the Chino Champion.
"The fact that there were six units full of property kind of tells us the guy was some kind of a hoarder — that he was collecting this property, and he was actually just storing it,” Naquin said, according to ABC 7.
Naquin said Ellis had a job cleaning parking lots in Chino Hills, and was able to gain access to some places by gaining the trust of people in the areas where he was working, the Chino Champion reported.
Mops, brooms and buckets were among the items recovered, ABC 7 said.
“He was stealing anything he could get his hands on," Naquin said.
Investigators have recently been able to return about $63,000 in property to several victims, the Orange County Register reported. Authorities have confirmed more than 50 vehicle burglaries and identified 40 victims, Naquin said.