Detectives have arrested three people suspected of stealing quarters from coin-operated washers and dryers at Modesto and Turlock laundromats four times in the past two months, causing thousands of dollars of damage to the machines in the process.
Modesto police detectives are working with other investigators looking into the possibility the trio of suspects is responsible for similar burglaries at other laundromats in Stanislaus and Merced counties.
Jaime Javier Chavez, 23, of Modesto, Pen Chan, 29, of Modesto, and a 13-year-old Ceres boy were arrested on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and vandalism, said Sgt. Rick Armendariz, a Modesto police spokesman.
Police did not release the boy's name because he is a minor. Chan was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop, while Chavez and the boy were arrested Wednesday at their homes.
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Armendariz said the suspects entered the laundromats, broke into the coin machines on the washers and dryers and stole the coins. The suspects would sometimes create a lot of damage only to steal a few coins in return.
"You don't know how many coins are in there, until you actually get in there," Armendariz said.
The Modesto burglaries occurred May 26 at the Birdies Wash & Dry Laundromat at 1604 Tully Road and at the Launderland at 1511 Yosemite Blvd. on June 7 and Monday. The Turlock burglary also occurred Monday at a laundromat in the 400 block of Seventh Street, just east of Lander Avenue.
Modesto, Ceres and Turlock police, as well as the Stanislaus County and Merced County sheriff's departments, are trying to determine if the suspects were involved in other similar burglaries in the region.
Laundromats have been burglarized in Ceres, Turlock, Delhi and Grayson.
Some of the businesses were able to capture the crimes on their surveillance cameras. Armendariz said the video footage has helped in identifying and linking the suspects to these crimes.
Police ask anyone with information about these burglaries to call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.