L.A. Times subscribers burglarized after requesting vacation holds
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Some subscribers to the Los Angeles Times were burglarized after requesting their home delivery be temporarily held while on vacation.
- Four men are accused of using lists of vacationing subscribers for dozens of burglaries
- Thieves reportedly stole $1 million in property, including computers, jewelry and swords
- The Los Angeles Times says no financial information was compromised
- The paper says it will no longer share vacation information with distributors
(CNN) -- People put their newspaper delivery on hold when they go on vacation to avoid a pile of papers on the driveway, advertising their absence to burglars.
But for dozens of Californians, that pre-emptive move backfired. Badly.
Armed with stolen lists of vacationing subscribers, a troupe of burglars ransacked at least 25 Los Angeles-area homes to the tune of $1 million over a period of three years, authorities said.
The team stole computers, jewelry, musical instruments and even collectible swords, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
The scheme started when 51-year-old Duane Van Tuinen, an office machine repairman, was contracted by distributors of the Los Angeles Times to repair equipment, officials said.
Once inside the businesses, investigators said, Van Tuinen repeatedly stole lists of Los Angeles Times subscribers who asked their newspaper delivery be put on hold while they went on vacation.
Van Tuinen passed the lists on to three others who carried out the burglaries, the sheriff's department said.
Three other men -- Randall Whitmore, 43; Joshua Box, 43; and Edwin Valentine, 52 -- are suspected in the burglary ring. Charges were pending as investigators tried to locate as many victims and identify as many of the burglaries as possible, officials said.
Detectives recovered hundreds of pieces of stolen property from dozens of residential burglaries. According to the Times, the burglars allegedly stole $1 million worth of property.
"Although much of the stolen property has been returned to the rightful owners, we are still trying to locate additional victims," Detective Jack Jordan of the Major Crimes Bureau said.
The Times said it has launched an internal review and has cooperated with the sheriff's department.
"Our customers can rest assured that no financial information was involved and that these robberies, while terribly unfortunate, are likely limited to a small section of the vast area we cover," Director of Communications Hillary Manning said in a statement.
But going forward, the newspaper said it will no longer share vacation information with distributors.
New York Times says Chinese hackers broke into its computers
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.