A man and a woman under investigation for a series of open-house burglaries across California pleaded not guilty to felony charges.
Sara Neal, 28, and Richard Maloney, 29, were arrested June 19 in Huntington Beach, in southern California, in connection to a spree of open-house burglaries that spanned as far north as San Francisco — and authorities in Laguna Beach, Orange, Brea and Irvine now suspect the duo of similar crimes up and down the Pacific Coast, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In each case, Maloney distracted a real estate agent overseeing the open house while Neal scoured rooms and pilfered goods, police told the paper.
“Neal admitted to the Laguna Beach crimes, while Maloney remained vague about his involvement,” LAPD Sergeant Jim Cota told local outlets. “Neal and Maloney are believed to be responsible for over seven residential burglaries related to open houses throughout the State of California.”
Maloney pleaded not guilty to one felony count of first-degree burglary and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime involving a burglary. Neal pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of first-degree burglary, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance, court records show.
Both are now scheduled to appear in court for a trial on July 1. Their bail has been set at $110,000 for Neal and $50,000 for Maloney, respectively. According to earlier coverage, police first started tracking Neal and Maloney after several reports of burglaries during open houses earlier in the spring.
After a car suspected of being associated with the crimes was seen in Huntington Beach last week, police followed it, searched it and discovered ‘large amounts’ of stolen property from open house burglaries from as far away as San Francisco, a seven-hour drive from Huntington Beach.
A third person, Keith Allen Gorden, was charged with felony first-degree burglary and felony conspiracy to commit a crime in connection with an April burglary of an open house in Huntington Beach. The LAPD did not immediately return Inman’s request for comment on the details of the case.
Neal admitted to the crimes during interviews with detectives Tuesday at Orange County Jail while Maloney was “vague about his involvement,” police told the LA Times. While Huntington Beach is the only city to officially charge Neal and Maloney with the crimes, authorities in Laguna Beach, Orange, Brea and Irvine are investigating a similar spree of open-house burglaries.
Nationwide, open houses are often targets for all kinds of crime. In April, a man allegedly used a stun gun in an attempt to sexually assault an agent who was showing him an open house. In early 2018, meanwhile, an agent holding an open house alone was robbed at gunpoint.
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