By 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, nearly half of the $100,000 worth of stolen goods on display by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Laguna Niguel had been claimed by their rightful owners.
The cache was found in the possession of alleged burglars Justin Eatenton, 25, and Michael Guerrero, 22, after their arrest. The two are linked to 20 burglaries of jewelry, weapons, currency, electronics and other goods, said sheriff's department spokesman Jim Amormino.
Owners claimed every gun found in the cache, he said.
The burglaries all happened between mid October and mid December in Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and Dana Point.
Amormino called the alleged burglars "fairly sophisticated." Among the items found in their possession when they were arrested was a chemical kit used to test whether a piece of metal was actual gold. Amormino said they would leave imitation or gold-plated items and sell off much of the gold jewelry.
Sheriff's Investigator L. Henriquez, who was involved in the investigation, gave residents some tips for keeping their jewelry safe:
- Ninety percent of the burglaries happened through an unlocked door or open window. Lock up.
- Lock up jewelry in the house. Use a relatively immobile safe -- thieves will just steal small ones and open them at their leisure.
- Record the serial numbers of electronics and photograph jewelry. It makes items easier for police to track.