Authorities are investigating whether an overnight burglary at a community center in Calabasas is related to a string of other break-ins nearby, but said it’s still too early to tell whether those incidents are also related to gunfire near the state park where a father was killed earlier this year.
The perpetrator in Tuesday’s incident could be involved in as many as eight other burglaries that have occurred in communities in the Santa Monica Mountains area since October 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
In Tuesday’s break-in, at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center at 27040 Malibu Hills Road, the suspect apparently gained entry by breaking the glass front door with a rock, investigators said.
A vending machine inside the building was also broken into using a rock, and several food products were taken.
It’s the second time the community center has been targeted, with the first occurring on July 27. And, Tuesday’s was the fourth similar incident in about two weeks, authorities said.
Last week, a location on the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road, in an unincorporated area in the Santa Monica Mountains, was targeted on Oct. 4, following another incident at the same location on Sept. 24.
And on Sept. 30, the Sheriff’s Department initiated a tactical response after a business owner reported a strange break-in at his office in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway.
Brian Boudreau, who owns Malibu Valley Farms, told KTLA he set up security cameras after noticing a series of small signs that suggested an intruder. According to him, the man only took his employees’ food — but the surveillance footage shows he was armed, with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
Boudreau said he’s turned the video over to sheriff’s investigators.
Other burglaries authorities believe could be involved occurred:
• March 8, 2017, in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway, where Boudreau’s offices are located in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains area
• Oct. 28, 2016, at a building a few miles north of Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas
• Oct. 10, 2016, on the 26800 block of Dorothy Drive, in an unincorporated area of the mountain region
Detectives describe the suspect as a slender man seen wearing dark clothing.
The crimes series is in the same area as a separate crime series the Sheriff’s Department is investigating, involving shootings in the area of Malibu Creek State Park.
The grisly killing has baffled detectives, who have not identified any suspects in the case.
Amid the investigation, officials have disclosed seven other shootings were reported in and around the popular wilderness area in the last two years. Detectives are still uncertain whether they are all linked.
Last weekend, authorities combed the park for suspects after a suspicious person was reported there, but nothing was found.
Responding to reporters’ questions after a separate press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said investigators aren’t yet ready to link the burglaries and shootings. “We don’t rule anything out,” McDonnell said, but “it would be premature” to connect cases.
Still, the sheriff said both cases have remained a priority for the department and detectives are “working hard.”
“I can’t go into great detail as far as what we’re doing out there, because it would jeopardize our investigation,” McDonnell said.
One woman lives in the area said she saw deputies “everywhere” on Tuesday.
“Every place I went, the police are everywhere, and helicopters have been all over the neighborhood at night,” said the woman, who wished to remain unidentified.
Another area resident, Norma Maldonado, told KTLA the dual investigations have left her worried.
“My biggest concern is we’re not getting a clear picture of what’s happening, but I sense that what’s happening is worse than what we think,” she said.
Anyone with information on either crime series can submit a tip anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or www.LACrimeStoppers.org.