'Selfie' burglar sentenced to probation

Adam Howe left cellphone at crime scene

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A Chula Vista man whose “selfie” that got him busted for burglarizing a church is about to be a free man.

10News was the only station inside the courtroom Tuesday as Adam Howe entered. The 26-year-old was shackled at the waist and in a blue jailhouse jumpsuit for his sentencing.

It was early February when 10News first aired Howe’s incriminating photo. Chula Vista police say he and two others broke down a back door at the Hilltop Tabernacle Church in Chula Vista, ransacked the offices and stole computers and cash.

Police say the trio then broke into a Prowler RV in the church parking lot, where they took purses and watches. The total loss was about $10,000. 

Howe’s cellphone was found inside the church. He is a known transient in the area, so there was no known address.

Police say in his “selfie,” the park in the background of the photo was the biggest clue to help officers find him. They began their search for him in the familiar park and were quickly told by others where to find him.

Next to the church is a riverbed encampment, which is a place where Howe was known to sleep. It is also where police say some of the stolen goods were found. It is unclear if this was where Howe was arrested.

Superior Court Judge Garry Haehnle sentenced Howe to three years probation and ordered him to stay away from the Hilltop Tabernacle Church.

Restitution has yet to be determined.

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