Search warrants detail how police tracked suspects accused in iPad, laptop thefts from local schools

SAN DIEGO -  

10News has obtained search warrants detailing how police managed to track down the men accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of iPads and laptops from local schools.

When a Border Patrol agent stopped a car for the smell of marijuana and found dozens of stolen iPads inside, it may have seemed like a lucky grab, but it was anything but.

Since November, nearly a dozen local schools had been hit from Encinitas to Solana Beach and east to Poway and Lakeside. During the incidents, it was always the same modus operandi: smash and grab. Most of the laptops and iPads stolen were labeled with the name of the school from which they came.

According to search warrants obtained by 10News, the stolen iPads and laptops were sold on the street for about $250 each.

However, some people noticed the labels and reported what they had been seeing on the news, leading police to their suspects.

Police started tracking the suspects' cell phones and followed them to three different schools in just a couple of days, with one in Encinitas and two more in Orange County.  None of the schools were burglarized, but police were certain they were after the people believed to be behind the thefts.

All police needed was a break and found it. Police searched the suspects' home the same night, which is something they may not have been able to do without building a case in advance.

Police believe the crimes were gang-related and could be part of a larger operation. They hope to use this break in the case to make more arrests.

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