DEL MAR, CA -- Is the Great North County iPad Heist finally over?
Three Riverside County men accused in the theft of 29 iPads and other electronics from Del Mar Heights Elementary School pleaded not guilty Friday to burglary and receiving stolen property.
Trevor J. Williams, 21, Thomas Earl Burleson, 21, and Eyon Zimmerman, 19, were each ordered held on $300,000 bail.
Williams and Burleson are charged in connection with the burglary at the school in Del Mar. Zimmerman also faces charges related to six other burglaries at schools in San Diego County, said Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh.
Burleson faces seven years in prison if convicted, Williams nine years and Zimmerman 13 years.
Williams and Burleson are documented gang members and Zimmerman is a known associate, the prosecutor said.
The charges against the defendants include allegations that the crimes—which began Nov. 18—were committed for the benefit of a gang, according to McHugh. Losses so far total $250,000, he said.
He said the defendants are also under investigation for break-ins in other Southern California counties, including Orange and Los Angeles counties. More arrests are possible, McHugh said.
In December, Cardiff Elementary School reported the loss of 12 iPads from a classroom cabinet. A day later, another dozen were stolen from another Encinitas elementary school. And in mid-January, a third local school was victimized, with someone taking five iPads from a locked cabinet.
Citing the the District Attorney’s Office, U-T San Diego reported that 123 iPads and 115 laptop computers have been stolen from schools around the county since Nov. 18.
“Among the schools hit: El Camino Creek Elementary, Cardiff Elementary, Lakeside Middle School and Lakeside Farms Elementary,” said a U-T report Friday.
The defendants were arrested Wednesday at a Temecula-area Border Patrol checkpoint. The iPads stolen from the Del Mar school earlier that morning or the night before were recovered from the defendants' car, along with a laptop computer, bolt cutters and a projector, McHugh said.
A readiness conference is scheduled Feb. 13 and a preliminary hearing for Feb. 15.
—City News Service contributed to this report.