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Stolen keys open the doors to apartment crime spree

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 11:55:25 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 24 2013 07:11:33 PM CDT
Stolen keys photo
CHICO, Calif. -

Two men have been arrested in connection with a series of overnight burglaries at a Chico apartment complex.  But the thieves didn’t have to break in.  Instead police said they stole dozens of keys from the manager’s office, allowing the burglars to open the locks and enter apartments while the residents were away or sleeping.

The crimes happened late Wednesday or early Thursday at Lakeview Apartments at 2581 California Park Drive in southeast Chico.  Hours later, police arrested Lane Larkin, 29 of Chico, and Brian Martin, 19 of Paradise.

KRCR News Channel 7 was on the scene Thursday morning as staff were working to replace dozens of locks.

Police said the suspects broke into the pool maintenance room, which is connected to the apartment manager’s office.  They grabbed approximately 60 keys and then started entering apartments and taking items.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, five residents reported items were missing from their apartments. 

Butte College student Shung Liu was supposed to deliver a presentation in his class.  But his report was on his now stolen laptop.

“When I woke up and tried to make a copy for the presentation at school, and I can't find it,” said Liu.

Danielle Cassley said her grandmother had her credit cards stolen.

“She actually just called her bank, and they've been using her card,” said Cassley.  “So I don't know what's going on.”

Officer Casey Sandoval was one of the officers who spent the entire morning trying to find all the people who were targeted.  “If we're not contacting people, the office will be calling each individual apartment to let them know there was an event here,” said Sandoval.

It’s a logistic nightmare for Lakeview's office manager John Liclican.  He’s trying to contact every resident whose keys were stolen.  Most weren't home, they were either at work, school or out of town.

“It was a terrible thing to come into, coming in this morning and just seeing the mess in the office,” said Liclican.

.Perhaps the busiest person on the property is maintenance worker Terry Braly, who must  change all the compromised locks.

Police said the surveillance camera was also destroyed, possibly an attempt to hide the thieves’ identity.

Police said they tracked down Larkin and Martin around 11 a.m. Thursday.  An officer spotted Larkin, who he knew to be on release from the Butte County Jail.  The officer contacted Larkin who was in a vehicle with Martin.  Police said the men were in possession of property from some of the earlier burglaries. 

Both Larkin and Martin were taken into custody and will be booked into Butte County Jail.  Chico Police Detectives will be conducting additional follow-up regarding this case.