QUEENS — Police arrested two men and a woman who broke into at least six homes in various Queens neighborhoods dating back to January to steal designer bags, jewelry and cash, prosecutors said.
The suspects — Carlos Castro-Diaz, 41, Michelle Valencia Jaramillo, 21 and Jorge Vela-Sanclemente, 52 — were arraigned Saturday and variously charged with burglary, grand larceny, attempted burglary, possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief and petit larceny, the Queens District Attorney's office said.
The trio stole two Louis Vuitton purses worth more than $1,000 from a home in Corona on Jan. 25 and a silver Bulova watch from a house in Woodside on March 23, according to the criminal complaints.
They also burglarized a home on Juno Street in Forest Hills on April 7, stealing items worth approximately $21,000, including cash, rings, a diamond bracelet, a gold necklace, two woman’s watches and a pair of Prada sunglasses, officials said. Eight days later, they stole $10,000 in cash from a home in Jackson Heights.
Investigators were able to put an end to the spree last Friday, after they watched the trio breaking into two homes in Corona, according to court documents.
When police later approached Vela-Sanclemente, he immediately offered to cooperate with investigators, saying that he got roped into the scheme after being hired as a driver by Castro-Diaz.
“I’ll work with you, I’ll give you information, I’m guilty right now, give me a break, f--king guy said, ‘Give me a ride, $200 for you to be my driver,’ stupid me listen to that guy, f--k me, papi, look at my record,” he said, according to the criminal complaint.
Vela-Sanclemente told investigators Castro-Diaz picked him up from his place in a BMW and told him where to drive. “He was gonna hook me up with jewelry and clothes for me driving him,” he said, according to court documents.
Valencia Jaramillo later told investigators that she “was doing it for a few months."
“When I burglarize the places I take jewelry and sell it, and sometimes I hold a few pieces in case of emergency,” she said, according to the complaint.
Following the arrest, police were able to recover a number of items from Castro-Diaz's car and home in Elmhurst. They also discovered several tools the trio allegedly used to break into homes.
“The defendants are accused of brazenly committing a rash of residential burglaries across a wide swath of Queens County in broad daylight,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
Brown also warned residents that they “should be mindful that as we head into warm weather, summer is a peak time for burglaries.”
Castro-Diaz and Valencia Jaramillo were ordered held without bail, while Vela-Sanclemente was ordered held on $100,000 bail, the DA’s office said.
If convicted, each suspect faces up to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.
They are due back in court on June 9.
Attorney information for the trio was not immediately available.