Police arrest suspected cat burglar in Clay Street crimes

One suspect is in jail and others have been identified in a string of cat burglaries in the lower Clay Street area over the last week, police said.

Police identified the suspects, who stole several laptops, digital cameras and two vehicles, using high-tech software installed on one of the victim's laptop computers.

Purchased just weeks before the thefts, the software allowed police to track the computer from the victim's cell phone after it was stolen. The software also included a Web camera that took pictures of the suspects while they were using the computer, police said. When the suspects accessed a Myspace page, police matched photos on the site with those taken by the Web cam.

"Technology is a wonderful thing for some people," Sgt. Jim Alderman said. "It's pretty easy to track this stuff."

The Myspace account led police to two addresses, one in Medford and one in Ashland, where stolen property was found. Police arrested Daniel Richard Escamilla, 20, of Medford and believe there are at least two more suspects still at large that are likely related to Escamilla.

So far, the two stolen vehicles and an estimated $20,000 in personal property have been recovered. Escamilla was arrested Wednesday afternoon on four counts of burglary, five counts of theft over $750, and charges of receiving stolen goods and unauthorized use and entry of a stolen vehicle. He is being held on $129,000 bail.

Police said the burglaries were unusual because the items were stolen while people were at home sleeping. In most cases, the burglars entered through unlocked sliding doors and stole purses containing car keys and technological equipment.

"The lesson on all these things is lock your doors, take your keys and don't leave your keys in your car," Alderman said.

While police were tracking the stolen laptop early Wednesday morning, residents near Clay Street reported a suspicious vehicle and two people attempting to access a second vehicle. The suspects fled after police were called, and police recovered the first truck, stolen from a Central Point resident. The second stolen vehicle, reported on Wightman Street around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, was recovered soon after.

The last burglary, also reported on Wednesday, occurred on Pine Crest Terrace, about a mile away from the other incidents. Police believe they are connected because the residents were home sleeping and discovered their television missing when they woke up.

Recovered property will be returned to the owners as soon as the investigation is complete, police said.

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