Police Wednesday arrested a transient accused of stealing laptops computers containing private patient information from a regional hospital chain earlier this month, however the pilfered computers remained missing, police said.
Christopher Lee Brown, 36, was booked on suspicion of burglary after police spotted him in a transient encampment near the 710 Freeway and Valley Boulevard, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
But the laptop computers he’s accused of stealing in an Oct. 12 break-in at AHMC Healthcare Inc.’s facility in Alhambra were not found.
“They searched his personal belongings by where he was camped out. They couldn’t find the computers,” Johnson said.
The machines, which contain information of about 729,000 patients of AHMC, were taken about 11 a.m. from the sixth-floor of the building at the 1000 S. Fremont Ave, which is monitored by both security cameras and a security guards, AHMC officials said.
The information contained on the two password-protected laptops includes names, Medicare and insurance identification numbers, diagnosis and procedure codes and record of insurance and patient payments, officials said.
Affected patients on Medicare, which amounts to about 10 percent of the affected group, potentially had their social security numbers compromised by the security breach.
Patients who received treatment at Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park Hospital, Whittier Hospital Medical Center, Greater El Monte Community Hospital, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Anaheim Regional Medical Center are among those whose information was stored on the computers, according to AHMC.
The theft took place on a Saturday and was not discovered until two days later when employees returned to work Oct. 14. A review of security camera footage allowed officials to narrow down the timeframe of the burglary and identify Brown as the suspect, Johnson said.
Police had been checking locations known to be frequented by transients and following up on reports of possible sightings from the public when officers spotted Brown shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Johnson said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
According to county booking records, Brown was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.
Police had received no indication Wednesday that information taken from the stolen computers had been used for identity theft, Johnson said. But many AHMC patients contacted police and expressed worry about that possibility.
Those concerned that their information may have been compromised can reach AHMC’s Privacy Department at 855-977-6678 for more information.
PASADENA — Police arrested two men Saturday in connection with a string of car burglaries that’s been plaguing a parking structure for the past week.
Christopher Shackerford, 19, and Jose Algaza, 26, both of Pasadena, were booked on suspicion of burglary shortly before 3 a.m. after they were spotted leaving an underground parking structure in the 200 block of North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
The parking structure has seen eight car burglaries or thefts from cars over the past week, he added.
A nearby resident spotted the two men leaving the underground parking structure on bicycles, Clawson said. “Due to the recent burglaries in the area, a witness called police.”
Two officers found and detained Shackerford and Algaza a few blocks away.
They were arrested after officers found one of them in possession of items believed to have been stolen from a car parked in the structure, the lieutenant said. Burglary tools and garage gate remote activators from the facility were also found in the men’s possession, Clawson said. Garage remotes had been stolen from cars at the structure in previous burglaries.
A search warrant carried out later in the day recovered additional items believed to have been stolen from cars, as well as additional burglary tools, Clawson said.
Though the investigation was ongoing, he said, “Hopefully, this (arrest) will solve eight burglaries. A lot more follow-up needs to be done.”
WHITTIER — A man suffered a severe injuries and may lose a hand after he was shocked while allegedly trying to steal wiring from an abandoned juvenile hall facility in Whittier early Saturday, authorities said. The incident was the second time this week an accused wire thief has been badly shocked in the Whittier area.
The incident took place about 5 a.m. at the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correction Facility site, 11850 Whittier Blvd., California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The injured suspect, a Downey man in his 50s, was expected to survive but suffered severe burns to both hands, CHP Sgt. Charles Quijada said. “Last we heard, he may lose a hand.”
The man’s name was not available Saturday as he remained hospitalized.
Whittier police first responded to the facility and discovered the man in an electrical room toward the rear of the campus, which it appeared he had broken into, Quijada said. Panels had been removed from an electrical vault, wires had been cut and tools were found near the injured man.
He was expected to face burglary charges once his medical condition improved.
The value of the damage done to the facility was still being ascertained, Quijada added.
Whittier police turned the investigation over to the CHP, which patrols state facilities.
Last weekend, another man suffered major burned and was hospitalized in critical condition after receiving a 12,000-volt shock while trying to steal wiring from a Southern California Edison site in the 9900 block of Beverly Boulevard in Pico Rivera, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith.
Billy Ray Owens, 51, of Whittier was discovered badly burned next to a pair of bolt cutters and a large piece of electrical equipment shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday, Smith said. The incident briefly shut off power for more than 20,000 SCE customers in Pico Rivera and unincorporated Whittier and caused an estimated $45,000 worth of damage to the equipment, officials said.
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Thieves made off with about $7,000 worth of heavy-duty copper wiring being used to create the La Canada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association’s 2014 Rose Parade float earlier this week, officials said Thursday.
The missing wire was first discovered Tuesday when workers arrived at the construction site in the 4500 block of Hampton Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Randy Forney said.
Based on the scale of the heist, it appeared to involved more than one burglar, Forney said. “It would almost have to.”
The thieves cut a padlock on a storage unit to access the wire, he added.
The theft was believed to have taken place sometime between Friday night and Tuesday morning, Forney said.
No description of the culprits was available.
The La Canada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association has been building its float, titles “Dog Gone,” to enter in the 2014 Rose Parade.
Donations to help the nonprofit organization replace the stolen equipment are being accepted at the http://www.lcftra.org.
PICO RIVERA — An alleged would-be copper thief received a 12,000-volt shock and severe burns while attempting to steal wire from a Southern California Edison breaker station over the weekend, authorities said.
Billy Ray Owens, 51, of Whittier was hospitalized in critical condition after he was found unconscious Sunday morning at the utility equipment site in the 9900 block of Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
The failed heist also caused a power outage that affected thousands of SCE customers in Pico Rivera and nearby West Whittier for nearly two hours, the lieutenant said.
The outage affected 20,548 SCE customers, SCE spokeswoman Susan Cox said.
A SCE supervisor went to the site to check on an alarm that had been triggered about 4:40 a.m., Smith said.
“When he arrived, he found the suspect semi-conscious, lying on the ground,” Smith said. The suspect, later identified as Owens, suffered severe burns running up his arm.
It was believed Owens was using a pair of bolt cutters which were found nearby to steal copper wiring when he received a 12,000-volt shock, Smith said. He was hospitalized in critical condition.
Burglary charges were expected to be filed when Owens’ condition improves, Smith added.
SCE workers had to de-energize the breaker station for about two hours to allow for the rescue of the injured man and repair of the damaged circuits, officials said. Smith said the incident caused an estimated $45,000 worth of damage to the SCE site.
All power was restored to affected customers by 6:52 a.m., Cox said. The official cause of the outage remained under investigation by SCE officials.
ARCADIA — Police conducted a search of an Arcadia Burlington Coat Factory early Wednesday after an employee arrived to discover a jewelry display case had been smashed open, police said.
Police received a call shortly after 7 a.m. reporting the burglary at the store, 1201 S. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
An employee arrived to work and immediately exited the store and called the police after seeing a jewelry display case on the first floor of the store had been smashed, the lieutenant said.
Police surrounded the store as a team of officers searched the interior in case any burglary suspect remained inside, Castro said. Officers completed their search about 9:25 a.m., finding no one inside the store.
Investigators were still trying to determined what time the overnight burglary took place, he added.
It was not immediately clear what, if anything, other than the jewelry from the display case had been stolen, Castro said.
PASADENA — A burglar or burglars ransacked a Pasadena senior citizen’s home as she was asleep inside early Sunday, officials said.
A 65-year-old woman as asleep in her home in the 1400 block of Glengarry Road about 12:15 a.m. when she heard some noises, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“She believed the noises were from another family member, so she did not investigate the sound,” Clawson said.
But when the woman got up in the morning, he said, she found someone had entered her home through an unlocked window, and several electronic items had been stolen.
No description of the intruder or intruders was available.
ALTADENA — Detectives arrested an Altadena man Thursday after recovinering about $2,000 worth of computer equipment stolen over the summer from a Los Angeles County school.
Freddie Spears, 43, was arrested and booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property after deputies served a search warrant about 7 a.m. at his home in the 300 block of Calaveras Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Officials released little information about the ongoing investigation, as detectives continued seeking additional suspects and stolen computer equipment yet to be recovered, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Lasko said. He declined to identify the school, which lost about $10,000 worth of computer equipment in a summertime burglary.
Spears was taken into custody without a struggle, Lasko said.
According to county booking records, Spears was being held in lieu of $20,00 bail at the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Pasadena Superior Court.
PICO RIVERA — Deputies caught two men in the act of stealing wiring from an AT&T cell tower site early Friday, officials said.
William Price and Sean Sheets, both 33 and of Downey, were booked on suspicion of burglary and possession of burglary tools following their arrests shortly after 3 a.m. in the 4500 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
The sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station received a call reporting a burglary in progress at the cell tower site, comprised of a cell tower and a building housing electrical equipment, the lieutenant said.
Deputies arrived to find a gate surrounding the facility had been forced open.
They entered the building and found two men — later identified as Price and Sheets — lying on the floor, Smith said.
The men told deputies they had been accidentally locked inside the building, he said. But deputies found several locked metal boxes had been ripped open and wiring pulled out, along with bolt cutters and a portable reciprocating saw.
Officials had not yet obtained an estimate of the value of the damage from AT&T Friday morning, Smith said.
Price and Sheets were being held ion lieu of $40,000 bail each pending their scheduled arraignments Tuesday in Downey Superior Court, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
SIERRA MADRE – A burglar broke into a home Friday, ransacked the place and fled with a small handgun.
Sierra Madre Police said the burglary in the 700 block of Auburn Avenue happened sometime between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Sgt. Enrique Gonzalez said the residents left the home at 7 p.m. When they returned three hours later, they noticed a suspicious sedan parked on the street.
Gonzalez said the residents hadn’t seen that car in the area before. They called police.
When officers arrived within a minute or a minute and half, he said the car was gone.
Residents also discovered their house had been ransacked and the gun missing, according to Gonzalez.
- Ruby Gonzales