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Two men convicted of stealing iPads from county schools

ENCINITAS — On Aug. 16, two Riverside men were convicted of stealing 123 iPads, more than 100 laptops and other electronic devices from county schools over a two-month period. 

In the Encinitas Union School District, laptops were taken from Eda Harris and El Camino Creek.

The burglars also hit Cardiff Elementary twice, according to Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh.

Trevor Williams, 21, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Eyon Zimmerman, 19, was given five years behind bars.

Last month, each man pleaded guilty to burglary charges. They also admitted that they committed the crimes to aid the Riverside Edgemont/Dorner Blocc gang, McHugh said.

A third defendant, 21-year-old Thomas Earl Burleson, was convicted of burglary and other charges during trial and will be sentenced next week. Unlike Zimmerman and Williams, Burleson wasn’t convicted of gang charges, McHugh said.

McHugh said it’s estimated that losses, including the stolen electronic devices and damage done to schools during the break-ins, total $250,000. A judge at a restitution hearing in late September will decide how much the defendants will have to repay.

The burglary spree began this past November. Not long after, law enforcement officials recovered one of the stolen iPads, which linked the three men to the robberies.

After obtaining a warrant, the Sheriff’s Department analyzed cell phone records that pinned the defendants to the school areas the nights of the break-ins. Also, text messages and their Internet history further implicated the defendants, according to McHugh.

On Jan. 30, the defendants were stopped at a Temecula checkpoint, which wasn’t connected to the investigation. McHugh noted their car was searched because they were acting suspicious and an agent smelled marijuana smoke. Officials recovered 24 iPads, a projector, a laptop and a bolt cutter from the car and arrested the defendants.

Of the iPads stolen during the string of school burglaries, a total of 28 were recovered. McHugh said it’s assumed the rest were sold.