FREMONT (KRON) — Across the Bay Area, along the I-880 corridor near Fremont in particular, vehicle smash-and-grab break-ins had gotten to the point in recent months where some repair shops had reported a shortage of replacement glass.
On Wednesday, there was a major break in the case as several suspects are in custody after being linked to a sophisticated laptop computer theft ring.
Twenty-eight-year-old Carlos Humberto Paz, of Oakland, is the key figure in what the authorities had named,”Operation Million Dollar Baby.”
Paz and eight other people from Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco, are facing charges in connection with a scheme to steal laptop computers and ship them to Vietnam.
Led by Fremont police, the multi-agency unit linked a rash of vehicle break-ins and laptop thefts dating back to December to an Oakland street gang that hit commercial shopping centers and parking lots across the Bay Area and beyond.
The break in the case came when Paz, the alleged fence, or broker of the stolen merchandise, was linked to a storage container in San Jose where the laptops were re-sold to other co-conspirators for shipment to Vietnam in two different ways.
“We spotted several people loading stolen electronics into the back of the storage container and got a warrant and searched the storage container and found out it was headed for Vietnam, and then we intercepted two suspects who had more than 18 bags of luggage,” Fremont police Lt. Mike Tegner said. “And they were trying to board an airliner that was bound for Vietnam.”
A large undisclosed amount of cash was also seized as the suspects have been charged with conspiracy and receiving stolen property in connection with the theft of some 2,000 laptop computers valued at $2 million dollars.
Police say this isn’t the alleged perpetrators’ first rodeo.
They can’t say what was inside them, but they have evidence that several other shipping containers have long since left the port and that more arrests are pending.
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