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RPV Man Accused of Stealing from Lomita Mosque

John Gerlak was one of four people arrested this week.

Four men have been arrested, under the suspicion of stealing electronics from a Lomita mosque. Patch file photo.
Four men have been arrested, under the suspicion of stealing electronics from a Lomita mosque. Patch file photo.

Four men, including a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, were arrested on suspicion of stealing televisions, laptop computers and other electronic items from a Lomita mosque, authorities said today.

John Gerlak of Rancho Palos Verdes, along with Adam Collras of Lomita and Matthew Pacheco and Carlos Perez, both of Long Beach, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of narcotics.

They are suspected in the burglary Sunday of the Islamic Center of the South Bay in the 25800 block of Walnut Street, which was captured on surveillance video, said Sgt. Mark Moffett of the sheriff's Lomita Station.

On the video, Pacheco and Gerlak can be seen entering the center, taking the items and then fleeing in a white Chevrolet work truck loaded with the stolen goods, Moffett said.

Detectives from the Lomita Station reviewed the video on Wednesday and, following leads, identified two apartments -- one in Harbor City and another in Lomita -- where they believed the stolen items had been taken, he said.

They secured the apartments, ensuring that nothing could be removed, and obtained search warrants, eventually recovering three flat-screen televisions and a wireless microphone that had been taken from the center, Moffett said.

"Along with the stolen property, detectives recovered narcotics in the apartment in Lomita," he said.

While the search warrants were being served, Pacheco showed up at the Lomita apartment and ran from detectives but was later arrested by deputies who surrounded the area, Moffett said.

A canine unit located Pacheco as he hid in a yard on 251st Street in Harbor City, Moffett said.

All four suspects were booked into the Lomita Station and were due in court in Torrance on Friday, Moffett said.

Lomita Code Enforcement officers accompanied the detectives during the search of the Lomita apartment and identified numerous violations, prompting an abatement investigation, Moffett said.

--City News Service


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