Two career burglars flew from Arizona to specifically rob a Woodside home of between $30,000 and $50,000 in jewelry because they identified the town as a wealthy target, according to prosecutors.
The pair, Bradley Sullivan, 51, and Michael Hunter Wallen, 48, were arrested last year after investigators identified them from surveillance video taken by a neighbor’s camera. But Sullivan’s defense attorney, Mike Hroziencik, said the men weren’t in town to burglarize but rather to sightsee around the Bay Area.
“That was their sole purpose. They were touring the area and got lost in Woodside,” Hroziencik said.
On March 28, 2012, the men flew from Glendale, Arizona, to the Bay Area — using an Expedia package arranged by Sullivan’s girlfriend, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe noted — and rented a car they drove to Woodside.
Surveillance footage showed two men later identified as Sullivan and Wallen exiting the rental car in front of the burglarized home on the day of the theft. One man in the footage went up to the home while the other tried covering the car’s license plate although the camera first captured it.
The homeowners reported between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of jewelry missing.
A year later, sheriff’s investigators served a search warrant on the Arizona home where the two men and the girlfriend live and reported finding the stolen jewelry.
However, Hroziencik said the victim was only able to identify one piece of jewelry as belonging to them and it was a rather indistinctive Ralph Lauren bracelet rather than a custom item.
“Our position is that it wasn’t even stolen but something he acquired elsewhere,” Hroziencik said.
Sullivan, he said, buys storage lockers and sells the contents so he has a lot of stuff in the home.
Hroziencik and Wallen’s attorney Ed Pomeroy tried unsuccessfully to have the jewelry identification suppressed.
Hroziencik said there is no footage of the men entering the home so the only connection is them being in the area during the right time window.
Both men also have criminal records that echo their current charges. Both are second-strike defendants and Wallen has been to prison three previous times. If convicted, Sullivan faces 17 years in prison and Wallen faces 20 years.
Woodside had a rash of other home burglaries around the same time but they cannot be linked to the defendants, Wagstaffe said.
Prosecutors could not charge Sullivan’s girlfriend for aiding in the crime because they can’t prove she had knowledge of what they allegedly planned, Wagstaffe said.
The men remain in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail each and return to court pretrial conference July 28. Jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 18 although Hroziencik anticipates seeking more time.
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