Burglars target evacuated Calif. homes, including one belonging to former firefighter

The retired firefighter told authorities he was approached by a man in an orange vest; the Riverside County Sheriff's Department has arrested three suspects


Melissa Hernandez
Los Angeles Times

HEMET, Calif. — Homes in Hemet that were under evacuation orders for the Fairview Fire have been targeted by burglars, according to authorities.

On Sunday, three people were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing a home in the area under evacuation orders, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said. The three suspects were all Hemet residents: Deven Hooker, 31; John Blackwood, 42; and Michael Edward Serrano, 50.

Firefighters watch as the Fairview Fire burns on a hillside Thursday near Hemet, Calif.
Firefighters watch as the Fairview Fire burns on a hillside Thursday near Hemet, Calif. (Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press)

They were charged with burglary and looting in an evacuation area. Hooker was separately charged with possession of a controlled substance.

They remain in custody at the Smith Correctional Facility near Banning, jail records show.

On Friday, a former California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter's house was also targeted.

The ex-firefighter, who asked to be identified only as "Terry," told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that he and his wife left their home without locking the front door, and Terry said thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry was stolen from them, the station reported.

It was the second robbery this week reported in the area, according to Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Brandi Swan.

Swan said Terry told authorities he was approached by a man wearing an orange vest. Terry's neighbors captured a person wearing an orange vest leaving his house on their home security video about 30 minutes after the couple left. Later, another suspect is also seen in the video, according to the station.

Terry told KCBS that he also received a notification on his own Ring doorbell camera, but he was unable to watch the recording.

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©2022 Los Angeles Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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