Los Angeles: During the latter part of 2005, the LAPD Commercial Crimes Division, Burglary Special Section detectives responded to a public storage facility in North Hollywood in response to a request for assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
The ATF had discovered that a blind auction was held for a defaulted storage locker. The person who won the auction for the contents paid $300 but entered the wrong locker by accident and discovered a number of firearms. He ended up removing some of them but then realized that they might be stolen and contacted the ATF. Consequently, the ATF went back to the storage facility with him and discovered more weapons, a large cache of jewelry valued at approximately $2 million and a Degas painting valued at $10.5 million. At that point, the ATF removed the contents, put them in another locked storage facility under their control and contacted Burglary Special Section detectives.
Subsequently, detectives identified the storage space renter as Ignacio Pena Del Rio (aka Roberto Caveda) and Burglary Special Section detectives distributed Caveda’s photo throughout the Department in an attempt to locate him. Separate from that, West Valley patrol officers arrested Caveda after responding to a burglary radio call. West Valley Detective III Steve Galeria recognized Caveda, who was seated in a holding cell, as the individual wanted by Burglary Special Section detectives.
Burglary Special Section detectives worked in conjunction with West Valley Area detectives, conducting an intense, lengthy follow-up investigation that included a search warrant. A public showing of the recovered property resulted in the identification of numerous victims of residential burglaries throughout the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and Pasadena who were later reunited with their property.
On December 18, 2007, Caveda was convicted of six felony counts of first-degree (residential) burglary, nine counts of receiving stolen property, and one count of attempted escape. He was sentenced to eight to 10 years in state prison.
On February 25, 2008, Burglary Special Section detectives, through Caveda’s attorney, received a virtual treasure map depicting an area in which Caveda claimed to have buried a cache of jewelry along the 118 Freeway at White Oak Avenue.
On February 26, 2008, Commercial Crimes Division, Burglary Special Section detectives responded to the lightly foliaged location on a 118 Freeway right-of-way. The detectives then unearthed a piece of plastic pipe buried in the ground and examined the contents. A significant quantity of jewelry was recovered from within the pipe, which may be valued at several hundred thousand dollars. Victims are yet to be identified, Devonshire and West Valley Area detectives have been notified of the recovery, and detectives are currently conducting a detailed inventory.
Burglary Special Section detectives are asking the media’s assistance in an attempt to locate the owners of the recovered property, and potential victims are asked to contact LAPD detectives in the Commercial Crimes Division, Burglary Special Section 213-485-2524 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Off-hours, callers may contact the LAPD Realtime Analysis and Critical Incident Response Division at 213-978-6500.