5 home invasion suspects roam free, could be in Stanislaus County

Investigators are looking for a gang of home invaders involved in a three-county crime spree, Merced County officials said Tuesday.

Dubbed the "Band of Brothers" by police because they're all related, three of eight suspects are in custody on a laundry list of felonies, from robbery and burglary to gang-related charges, said Detective Paul Barile, with the Merced County Sheriff's Department.

"We're pretty sure they're in Stanislaus County someplace," Barile said of the remaining five suspects. The group also is suspected of home invasions in Merced and Sonoma counties, he said.

Since April 2006, 10 to 15 home invasions have been attributed to the group, he said, adding that though it regularly targets drug dealers, others also have been targeted.

Six or seven cases have been officially reported to the police.

"There's been a series that's gone unreported, typically because they're locations where narcotics are being sold or used," Barile said.

The home invaders usually hit in the early morning, breaking down a front door by force or by shooting out the lock, tying up the residents with tape or zip ties and stealing cash, jewelry and other valuables, Barile said.

"People are at home in their beds and they kick in the door," he said. "They're considered armed and dangerous."

Police are looking for Roberto Penaloza Jr., 32, of Delhi; Juan Carlos Alvarez, 26, of Turlock; Miguel Penaloza, 22, of Delhi; Hector Manuel Sanchez, 24, of Turlock; and Abelino Magana, 19, of Delhi.

Barile said investigators identified the suspects through documented gang connections, rap sheets, victim-witness statements and informants.

Barile said people should be aware of what's going on in their neighborhoods and report suspicious vehicles or people to police, noting the home invaders likely are casing neighborhoods days or weeks in advance.

Investigators ask anyone with information on the case to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at 385-7445.