FRESNO, Calif (KFSN) -- Out on the dusty roads of Eastern Kings County, Sheriff's Deputies say James Cruse looked for easy targets -- remote country homes, empty during the daytime.
"I was coming out yelling, 'Stop kicking my door. Stop kicking my door,'" said Mary Barcellos.
Screams from Barcellos scared away the burglar and as deputies rushed to her home, they found Cruse in his tan 2003 Honda Accord. They say it is the same man and car recorded in surveillance video from near several previous burglaries. With Cruse in custody, investigators started to connect the dots from a spree lasting for a few months, including a Visalia pawn shop Cruse frequented.
"Once we got that information, we were able to go to that pawn shop and just locate a treasure trove of jewelry that he's brought in," said Sgt. Jerry Hunter.
They reunited rightful owners with most of the recovered jewelry, but they say Cruse also pawned these rings, earrings, and a necklace which no burglary victims have claimed. Investigators say they have evidence tying Cruse to more than 15 burglaries and they think his spree may have extended into other counties as well. He has not lived in California long, but deputies say he left Washington and Oregon after racking up several similar charges.
This 88-year-old was not ready to be his next victim, but she may be his last.
"What I look at is, you know, my husband worked so hard for us to have this and then to have people come in and try to break into your house to get what you have. It's sad. It's sad," said Barcellos.
Barcellos says there was a time years ago when she did not even have to lock her door. She ordered an updated alarm system.