Rene Marquez, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant living in Simi Valley, was arrested June 15 in connection with a string of “smash and grab” car burglaries in Santa Clarita dating back to December 2010.
Deputies said they captured Marquez “after observing him commit a window smash vehicle burglary” in the parking lot of L.A. Fitness on Golden Valley Road while the car owner was working out inside the gym.
SCV Sheriff’s deputies tied Marquez to more than 50 similar car burglaries and said in a press release Friday that they “saw a decrease in these types of burglaries in business parking lots” after his arrest.
Prosecutors ultimately charged Marquez with just three counts of burglary, one count of purse snatching and one count of possessing stolen property, court records show.
Marquez took a plea bargain. Sentenced July 26 at the Santa Clarita Courthouse, he pleaded no contest to a single count of felony second-degree burglary to a vehicle.
Marquez was sentenced to two years in state prison, but the judge suspended his sentence and placed him on three years of formal probation instead.
As a condition of probation, Marquez was ordered to spend 365 days in the county jail and perform 30 days of community service. Although he had been in jail for 41 days at the time of his sentencing, with good-time credits he was credited for 62 days served, District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Friday.
District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said the two-year prison sentence would kick in if Marquez violates the terms of his probation.
On Friday, three months and one week after he went to jail, Marquez’s obligation to the county of Los Angeles ended in an early release.
Marquez was released from the Twin Towers correctional facility Friday morning into the custody of immigration officials to await deportation, deputies said.
Steve Whitmore, spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca, said “less serious” criminals in Los Angeles County currently serve 20 percent of their jail sentence.
Costs associated with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s six-month investigation that led up to Marquez’s capture – examining crime scenes, writing police reports, running fingerprints, chasing leads, conducting surveillance operations, establishing relationships with business owners who helped investigators – were not immediately known Friday.
After a three-month lull, five more “smash and grab” car burglaries were reported Thursday from a different L.A. Fitness parking lot in Valencia while the car owners were working out inside the gym.