A Santa Clara County grand jury has indicted 21 people for a series of sophisticated auto break-ins throughout the Bay Area, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office announced on Monday, Dec. 7.
The defendants are allegedly members or associates of the Ghost Town Gang, an Oakland street gang with members who have been accused of a violent robbery of a San Francisco television news crew and the attempted murder of a police officer, according to the DA's office.
The gang allegedly targeted cars during the last year throughout nine cities in the Bay Area, including Palo Alto, Los Altos, Milpitas, Mountain View, San Jose and Santa Clara. The group allegedly committed more than 50 auto burglaries, according to the indictment. All 21 defendants face felony vehicular burglary charges with gang allegations. If convicted, they could receive substantial state prison sentences, according to the DA's office.
"What's exceptional here is the brazenness of their scheme and the scope of the conduct involved there's hardly a city in the entire Bay Area that this group didn't hit," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Sandip Patel.
Those who were indicted allegedly rented cars to scout parking lots in shopping malls, including Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and McCarthy Ranch in Milpitas. Small groups allegedly broke into vehicles, looking for iPads, iPhones, laptops and other easily resold electronic devices. They allegedly stole hundreds of devices, according to the DA's office.
One of the defendants, Danny Garcia, 31, was also charged with attempted murder for allegedly attempting to run over a Santa Clara police officer who was trying to arrest him. Another defendant is already facing charges in San Francisco for the robbery of a television news crew.
Several Bay Area law enforcement agencies investigated the burglary cases, including police detectives from Palo Alto, East Bay Regional Parks, Fremont, Los Altos, Milpitas, Mountain View, Oakland, Pinole, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
The defendants are being arraigned Monday at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.