Suspects in Atascadero burglary spree are arrested

mfountain@thetribunenews.comFebruary 28, 2014 

A pair of suspected burglars accused of robbing sleeping victims’ homes during a four-month burglary spree in Atascadero has been taken into custody.

According to the Atascadero Police Department, Atascadero residents Cecil Mack Yahtin and Ashlee Marie Sylvester, both 22, were arrested Feb. 10 during a traffic stop following an investigation into stolen property found at a local secondhand store.

Between August and December 2013, four homes in the city were burglarized at night while the occupants were asleep — and in one case, items were taken from the same room where the residents slept. According to a department news release, jewelry and electronics worth more than $100,000 were stolen.

Investigators suspected the burglaries were connected because of their similarities and brazen nature. On Feb. 4, an Atascadero Police Department detective learned that a secondhand dealer in Santa Maria may have unknowingly purchased property taken during at least one of the burglaries. Once the items were positively identified, further information led investigators to Sylvester, who allegedly sold the items to the dealer.

Sylvester was then linked to Yahtin, who is on parole for several residential burglaries in Atascadero from 2010, according to police.

On Feb. 10, members of the Atascadero Police Department Investigations Unit conducted surveillance of Yahtin to confirm where he lived and to question him about the burglaries. Yahtin and Sylvester were spotted in a vehicle together in San Luis Obispo and were pulled over.

Numerous items linking the pair to the burglaries were allegedly discovered in the vehicle, and both Yahtin and Sylvester were arrested and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property and conspiracy.

Since their arrest, investigators have followed up with more nearby pawn shops and secondhand stores and have recovered additional items believed stolen in the burglaries.

As of Friday night, both Yahtin and Sylvester remained in custody in lieu of $50,000 and $20,000 bail, respectively. Dates for their next appearance in San Luis Obispo Superior Court were not immediately available Friday.

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