Authorities break up east county battery theft ring

SANTEE (CNS) – Four men and a woman were in custody Friday in connection
with a battery-theft ring in which a variety of vehicle types were targeted in
the East County, authorities said.

From Feb. 1 to March 21, a total of 31 batteries were stolen from
private and commercial vehicles, including trucks, golf carts and motor homes
in the East County, said San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Craig Johnson.

On Wednesday, patrol deputies received a report that two batteries were
stolen from a motor home in the 9500 block of Nicole Way in Santee, Johnson

A witness to the theft gave investigators a description of the thieves,
their car and a license plate number, which was registered to a residence on
Beechtree Street in El Cajon, he said.

Investigators and patrol deputies placed the Beechtree Street address
under surveillance and checked local recycling businesses for the suspects'
vehicle. They determined the suspects had just left an El Cajon recycling
business after selling batteries, Johnson said.

Within minutes, three people returned to the Beechtree Street residence,
where they were arrested, according to Johnson, who said two additional
suspects from previous battery thefts were arrested around the same time during
a traffic stop.

Brandon Elder, 25, of Lakeside was arrested on suspicion of petty theft
and possession of a controlled substance, which Johnson identified as heroin.

Daniel Stevenson, 23, of Lakeside was arrested on suspicion of petty
theft and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Brooke Winter, 21, of El Cajon was arrested on suspicion of petty theft,
and Brian Shay, 18, of Santee was arrested on suspicion of parole violation.

Jacob Lippert, 18, of La Mesa was arrested on suspicion of possession of
a controlled substance — heroin, according to Johnson — and being in
possession of drug-consumption paraphernalia and burglary tools.

The investigation remains open, Johnson said, adding that more people
may be involved in the burglary spree.

“The public is encouraged to keep their vehicles secured and minimize
the potential for theft,” the sergeant said.

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