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A pair of suspected burglars was arrested earlier this month after allegedly using a Contra Costa Times subscriber vacation list to target and burglarize at least one home in Walnut Creek, police said today. Police arrested Patrick Piazza, 28, of Bethel Island and 21-year-old Antioch resident Morgan Scales in Livermore on Jan. 13 after a resident spotted the pair driving off in his car, which he had left idling outside of his home, Livermore police Sgt. John Hurd said.
“We believe it was a crime of opportunity as they were cruising through the neighborhood,” Hurd said. Officers were able to stop the suspects on Interstate Highway 580 and arrest them. Police then learned that the pair had driven another vehicle to Livermore, which had been reported stolen out of Walnut Creek. That stolen car was returned to its owner, who discovered items that did not belong to him in the car. One of those items was a list of subscribers to The Contra Costa Times who had requested holds on newspaper deliveries while on vacation.
Police believe Piazza and Scales, and likely other suspects, used that list to target a home in Walnut Creek belonging to a subscriber on the delivery hold list. It appears that the suspects intended to burglarize a home in Livermore that was on the same list, but instead decided to steal the idling car parked next to that home, Walnut Creek police Lt. Steve Gorski said.
At least one other home burglary appears to be linked to the subscriber list, the lieutenant said. He said that investigators are working closely with the Contra Costa Times, which has launched an internal investigation to help determine how the subscriber list got into the wrong hands. According to the lieutenant, the city saw a similar case in which thieves targeted people on the newspaper’s delivery hold list a few years ago and were arrested. It is unclear whether the recent burglary and car thefts are related to that case.
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