Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy whom they suspect single-handedly carried out at least six residential burglaries in Sonora over two months before being discovered in someone's backyard Wednesday.
Officers got permission to search the boy's room and found $2,000 in items matching those missing from the recent burglaries, Sonora Police Lt. Mark Stinson said. He said they ranged from cell phones to a video game machine to a jar that had been filled with cash but was mostly empty when police found it.
"We think he is a one-man burglary team," Stinson said. "He was going in backyards looking for unlocked windows and doors, and if he didn't find something, he would break a window and unlock the door and walk right in."
Items matching descriptions from the burglaries were lying around the boy's bedroom, Stinson said. "It was not hidden. It looked like he had the things for personal use."
He said the victims are clustered in the same older neighborhood where many houses have windows right next to the doors, making it easier to break in. Police are examining four more burglaries they believe the boy might have been involved in.
The boy was initially spotted shortly after noon Wednesday in the backyard of an Oak Street home that had been burglarized Tuesday, Stinson said. Sonora schools are on spring break.
The resident noticed the boy in the backyard and became suspicious when he said he was looking for people who wanted their lawns mowed, Stinson said. The resident called police, who found the boy on his way into a second backyard down the street, Stinson said.
He said the boy told police he was visiting someone at the residence but didn't know who lived there. The boy's name wasn't released because he is a juvenile but he was arrested on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property and put in custody of the Tuolumne County Probation Department, Stinson said.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2324.