Couple suspected of stealing property from family of Reuben H. Fleet

SAN DIEGO - A probationer and his girlfriend were in custody Wednesday on suspicion of stealing property belonging to the family of the late Reuben H. Fleet, including memorabilia from the famed aviation pioneer's military career, antique jewelry, antique furniture and oil paintings, authorities said.

Edward Charles Peek, 29, and Nicole Rae Denny, 35, were arrested in the 3400 block of Felicita Road in an unincorporated area near Escondido on Tuesday, according to San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Daniel Deese.

The couple was detained by Peek's probation officer after he found property related to a home burglary and other evidence of the crime, Deese said in statement.

Detectives then searched Denny's vehicle and a storage unit rented by Peek and found military memorabilia, antique jewelry, antique furniture and oil paintings taken from the home of a deceased Fleet family member, Deese said.

Peek and Denny, who was also on probation, were arrested and booked into the Vista jail on suspicion of grand theft.

Born in 1887, Reuben Hollis Fleet was an industrialist and Army officer who founded and led several corporations involved in the design and manufacturing of aircraft, mostly Consolidated Aircraft, which built the B-24 Liberator and PBY Catalina used in World War II.

Later in life, Fleet founded the San Diego Aerospace Museum in 1961, now known as the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park. In 1973, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center was opened nearby the museum.

Fleet died in San Diego in 1975 at the age of 88.

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