To thieves, the home appears an easy target. Turns out, that’s not the case

Ceres police are looking for this male, who was caught on a surveillance camera burglarizing a home on Puma Way on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.
Ceres police are looking for this male, who was caught on a surveillance camera burglarizing a home on Puma Way on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.

Burglars really have a thing for a Ceres home, hitting it at least four times since late July — the latest incident Tuesday morning.

With overgrown landscaping, it looks unoccupied, an easy target. But a security system and a vigilant owner have shown otherwise.

On Aug. 1, the alarm system alerted the owner, who was not home. Accessing the surveillance cameras remotely, he saw people in his home and called 911. Police responded and arrested one suspect, but a second male got away. He could be the one who again escaped capture this week.

In this latest break-in, officers responded to the house on the 3300 block of Puma Way at about 8:10 a.m. when the owner again reported a burglary in progress.

When officers arrived, one of them — Christian Izquierdo — heard glass breaking. They began to search the area, and Izquierdo saw a Latino male walking north on Trina Lane. Izquierdo called out to the subject, who took off running, police said in a news release.

Officers canvassed the neighborhood but were unable to find the suspect. They believe he got a ride out of the area from an accomplice. The suspect was described as wearing a black shirt and pants and a green hat.

In the Aug. 1 burglary, suspect Dustin Robinson, 20, of Keyes was arrested at the scene. The second suspect was described as Latino, in his 20s, about 5-foot-8, wearing a black baseball cap and white T-shirt and carrying a black backpack.

Police released a surveillance camera photo of Tuesday’s suspect inside the Puma Way home, but Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Greg Yotsuya said it’s not been determined if he’s the same person who escaped Aug. 1.

Yotsuya called the homeowner’s security system “awesome” and said such set-ups can be strong deterrents and valuable tools in allowing fast police response and identifying suspects.

Another deterrent is keeping lawns mowed and landscaping trimmed, authorities say. If away for an extended period, use a service or recruit a neighbor.

Other tips from law enforcement:

  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.

  • Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or fliers to build up while you are away. Arrange with the post office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.

  • Push-button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.

  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.

  • Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

  • Never leave a house key under a doormat, in a flower pot or on the ledge of the door. Instead, leave a key with a trusted friend or family member in town.

  • Don’t advertise on social media that you will be away from home.

Anyone with information on Tuesday’s burglary is asked to call Detective Trinidad Viramontes at 209-538-5730 or contact Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tips also can be submitted via

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Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.