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Police arrest alleged car thieves

Police are reminding residents to remove their valuables from their cars today after they arrested of three men on possession of stolen goods during a police sting operation targeting car thieves.

Tevita Hala, 19, Palaki Liaava, 20, were arrested Thursday morning carrying a stolen camera, Tomtom GPS navigation system, designer eyeglasses and a garage remote clicker, police said.

Also arrested was Takilisi Vehikite, 22. All three men admitted to the thefts and led officers to the cars they had broken into, police said.

The action began to unfold Thursday morning after two officers set up surveillance at the Homestead Apartments in the 1900 block of Deerpark. They were responding to a high number of recent car break-ins at the community.

About 2:20 a.m., an officer saw two men near some cars in an alley. One appeared to be acting as a lookout while the other opened doors, police said.

The men were booked into Fullerton city jail, then transferred to Orange County Jail. Hala and Liavaa are listed as being held with "no bail," and Vehikite is being held on $20,000 bail. The charges include theft and possession of stolen property, and they are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow for their arraignment, police said.

"This is a great example of how we're using data to engage in smarter, targeting policing," said Sgt. Jeff Stuart. “Hopefully these arrests will discourage anybody who is thinking about breaking into cars.”

Stuart added that residents can take a number of steps to protect their property. Preventing auto thefts has been a focus for the police department, which late last year launched a “Lock It, Hide It or Lose it” campaign.

Among the tips:

- Don't leave valuables in your car. If you must, keep them locked in the trunk and out of view.
- Keep your doors locked and windows shut.
- Install a GPS tracking device and an invest in an alarm.
- Park in brightly lit spaces.

If you see suspicious activity, call police immediately, Stuart said.