Two men who allegedly used a garage door opener from an unlocked car to burglarize a Medford home while the owners slept inside were arrested Wednesday during separate investigations.
Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said the men entered two unlocked cars in the 100 block of Monterey Drive early Sunday morning and used a garage door opener they found to access the home. The thieves made off with a briefcase, a purse, a Samsung Galaxy tablet and a Kindle electronic book.
The victims reported the theft after they awoke that morning. But their credit cards already had been used to make purchases at Food 4 Less, Pilot Travel Center, Albertsons and other businesses, Budreau said.
Credit card records and surveillance footage show the suspects purchased mostly gift cards worth hundreds of dollars, "something we often see," Budreau said.
One of the gift cards was for Footlocker. Police provided surveillance images to store employees and Rogue Valley Mall security in hopes of tracking down the thieves.
On Wednesday, mall security reported that one of the suspects had arrived at Footlocker. The security officer was able to provide police with a description of the man's vehicle and his license plate number.
At about 3:30 p.m., police stopped the vehicle on Highway 62 and arrested the driver, John David Lewis, 26, of Medford. He was arrested on charges of identity theft, second-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and possession of methamphetamine.
At the same time, in an unrelated investigation, the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force served a search warrant on a home on the 3800 block of Corey Road in Central Point. They found Richard Anthony Aguiar, whom they'd learned was allegedly involved in the Nov. 4 burglary. When MADGE officers interviewed Aguiar, he admitted to committing the burglary, Budreau said.
Aguiar, 32, of Central Point, was arrested on charges of first-degree burglary, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, first-degree theft and two counts of identity theft.
None of the stolen property was recovered, Budreau said. Aguiar told police the property had been thrown away, but officers believe it was traded for drugs, Budreau said.
He said police have surveillance footage of Aguiar and Lewis purchasing the gift cards together with an unidentified woman, described as white, in her 20s to 30s, with a thin build and long, sandy-blond or brown hair.
"It's very important for people to report these cards stolen as soon as they notice them missing," said Budreau. "It's a common scenario we see — the cards are used immediately and they use them until the cards decline."
This serves as a reminder to lock vehicles at night, especially those with garage-door openers inside, police say.
Police also remind cashiers who see customers buying high-dollar amounts in gift cards to verify their identification.
— Mandy Valencia