A man detained Dec. 31 by San Luis Obispo County authorities as he disembarked from a plane in Honolulu had been sought in connection with six commercial burglaries in San Luis Obispo County during the last half of December and at least eight between mid-November and early December in El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties.
Authorities confirmed for The Cambrian on Tuesday, Jan. 19, that a clue crucial to the identification of 30-year-old Tyrone Brennen was a photo from a surveillance camera at Cambria’s Main Street Grill, where on Dec. 30 he allegedly had attempted to cut into and burglarize a free-standing ATM.
The suspect also was identified thorough DNA with the collaboration of San Luis Obispo Police Department detectives who were investigating earlier, similar burglaries in the city in 2012. County law enforcement agencies also worked with officials in Northern California, and identified Brennen through DNA evidence and surveillance footage showing Brennen’s face and distinctive glasses, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Local authorities tracked Brennen to Hawaii and, with the assistance of the Honolulu Police Department, arrested Brennen at the airport. He was booked into County Jail on Jan. 8 on 13 felony and misdemeanor counts of burglary, vandalism and receiving or possessing stolen property. He was held in lieu of $40,000 bail, but was no longer in custody as of Jan. 19.
Brennen’s attorney, Raymond Allen, told The Cambrian’s sister paper, The Tribune on Jan. 8 that it was too early in the judicial process to provide a specific comment.
“We have a legal process that affords Mr. Brennen the presumption of innocence, and there’s a lot to ferret out before we should jump to any conclusions,” Allen said.
Tony Cipolla, spokesman for the county Sheriff’s Office, said that investigators continue piecing together the complex, multiagency case against Brennen, who is from the East San Francisco Bay Area city of Antioch.
Still not determined is the total amount of money the burglar was able to steal, but he used the same method of operation in each business: He entered the building after removing a window, found an ATM and used an angle grinder to cut into it and remove the money.
Victim businesses in this county were in Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Avila Grocery in Avila Beach.
Cipolla said in one location, Brennen took about $25,000, but the spokesman didn’t know which business that was.
This guy found success doing the same thing over and over … he knew what he was after, and he went for it
Tony Cipolla, SLO County sheriff’s spokesman
“This guy found success doing the same thing over and over … he knew what he was after, and he went for it,” Cipolla said. “He was very prolific. In a seven-week span, he hit at least eight businesses in other counties and six in San Luis Obispo County … they were very anxious to get that guy.”
Hal Billingsley, Main Street Grill spokesman, said Tuesday that the burglar didn’t get any money there, perhaps because an alarm was triggered. At one point, however, Brennen looked up, directly at the camera that had been filming his actions.
Detectives say other businesses weren’t as fortunate.
Cipolla said Brennen had been able to disconnect or obscure the cameras in some of the other businesses he hit.
Sheriff’s Cmdr. Jim Taylor said Jan. 13 that the grill’s photo was crucial in identifying Brennen as the burglar. “If I had a business, one of the first things I’d get is the best, most up-to-date surveillance-camera system I could afford,” he said.