'Reflector Vest Crew' burglars arrested during Studio City break-in

A group of suspected burglars donned construction workers' reflective vests to avoid suspicion while casing homes in well-off neighborhoods, stealing from dozens of L.A. County homes before being caught in the act in Studio City, the Los Angeles Police Department alleged in a news release.

The group, dubbed the "Reflector Vest Crew" by the LAPD, targeted over 30 homes in West Los Angeles, Studio City, West Hollywood and other affluent areas, looking for high-end purses, jewelry, watches and cash, police alleged. Three were arrested during a break-in June 27 in Studio City and face multiple counts of residential burglary.

The suspects used four or five cars with two or three people in each car, Det. Brandon McConnell of the LAPD North Hollywood Division said. Before the June 27 break-in, police watched the crew allegedly try to burglarize two homes but fail because the homeowners answered the door, he said.

Roderick Dennis, 39, and Munya Jones, 19, both of Los Angeles, and Michael Mitchell, 21, of Ontario were booked into the Van Nuys Jail early in the morning June 28, according to jail records. Dennis, Jones and Mitchell were the only suspects caught and arrested that evening.

Police alleged that the burglars would send one person to knock on the door wearing a reflective vest like a construction worker, hoping to diffuse suspicion. If no one was home, the other members of the crew would go through the backyard to break in, police said in a release.

Read more: Trio of suspects burglarized 131 businesses, many of them small restaurants, police say

Dennis' girlfriend, 33-year-old Ashley Ellison, was also arrested after police searched her home July 3, according to inmate records. She is accused of storing items stolen in the burglaries and cars rented for the capers, police said. Thousands of dollars in cash, two stolen guns, jewelry appraisals and other evidence were recovered in the search, according to the LAPD.

Dennis is held on $1,370,000 bail. Jones and Mitchell were released on bond, and Ellison was released on her own recognizance.

Police asked that the public provide any information they may have about the burglaries to the LAPD North Hollywood Burglary Detectives at (818) 754-8410.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.