Three men who authorities suspect of seeking to burglarize residences abandoned in the Valley fire that has ripped across southern Lake County were arrested early Thursday, sheriff’s officials reported.
The arrests follow several other cases this week where deputies have detained and booked suspects thought to have looted or casing homes abandoned due to the mandatory evacuation order affecting much of Lake County.
The three men, who officials said are from San Francisco and Brisbane, were spotted in a Toyota pickup by a Lake County sheriff’s deputy patrolling the Hidden Valley Lake area shortly before 3 a.m. Thursday, sheriff’s officials said.
When the men could not account for their presence in the closed fire area, according to the sheriff’s office, the deputy, who had also detected a scent of marijuana coming from the pickup, began a search of the vehicle, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
He found one of the men, passenger David Michael Cesari, 23, of San Francisco, had a loaded .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol tucked under a heavy jacket, and a magazine of ammunition for the gun tucked into his pants at his wasteline, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
In the vehicle, he found, a full face mask, 3 pairs of gloves, tools, duct tape, zip ties, numerous key rings with keys, acetone, lighter, headlamps, flashlights, binoculars, empty plastic bags, empty garbage bags, a backpack and large knives, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The wheels wells of the pickup were covered with visible mud and although the men claimed to live in off a rural road in the area, authorities said they had no record that was in fact the case.
The men, who were dressed in camouflage and black clothing, said they were not burglarizing homes, but a Napa County sheriff’s deputy had spotted the same Toyota pickup with a white camper shell in Cobb the night before and suspected they could be seeking to break into homes, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Cesari was arrested on suspicion of possessing burglary tools, entering a closed disaster area, having a concealed unregistered firearm with ammunition, carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm in public and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The pickup driver, Dyami Gene Connell, 23, of Brisbane, was arrested on suspicion of possessing burglary tools, entering a closed disaster area and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Michael James Jimenez, 28, of Brisbane, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime and entering a closed disaster area.
The men were booked into Lake County Jail, with bail set at $100,000.00.
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