Suspects apprehended in vehicle robberies by trailheads

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Police arrested five suspects Friday who were possibly connected to several recent car burglaries in the parking lots of various Phoenix mountain trails.

James Bennett, Derek Byrski, Tina Billings and Barbara Wells were booked on burglary-related charges. Stephen Ross was booked for auto theft.

Authorities say the group worked together, breaking into cars and quickly using stolen credit cards at local businesses and ATMs soon after. Ross had rented a car using one of the stolen cards.

James Holmes, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department said the majority of the burglaries in Phoenix have occurred at Piestewa Peak, although the crime is happening Valley-wide.

Among the five suspects, police say more than 25 purses were found, as well as various burglary tools, heroin, and marijuana.

Police remind citizens that identification, cellphones, water and appropriate clothing should be with the hiker. Any unnecessary items should not be left in the car.

"Identity theft, forgery and the loss of finances are oftentimes the immediate result of having your car burglarized; recovery from ID theft could take years," said Holmes. "Is leaving personal, financial information and valuable property in your car while you exercise and explore worth the risk?"

The investigation is still continuing, and police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stop at (602) 262-61651 or Silent Witness at (480) W-I-T-N-E-S-S.