Leonard Hunt was just two months out of prison after serving an eight-year sentence for a string of violent home invasions when police believe he fell into his old ways.
Authorities are trying to link Hunt and four other people, including Hunt's former prison cellmate, to 17 armed home invasions and numerous burglaries that have occurred in the Las Vegas Valley since November .
Police have recovered roughly $25,000 in stolen merchandise, including a "massive amount of jewelry," "quite a lot of big-screen televisions" and a minivan, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Clint Nichols said at a news conference Monday.
Hunt, 32, met 23-year-old Jovan Carter while in prison, Nichols said. Carter was serving time for a 2007 store robbery. They met David Hayes, 34; Sarah Cowen, 19; and Abdul Shakir, 40, through halfway houses and criminal elements, Nichols said.
"They were able to meet each other and come up with this scheme to terrorize homeowners on the west end of our valley," he said.
All five were arrested last week and are facing numerous charges.
Police do not believe they have captured everyone involved in the ring, but they do believe the ring's "primary aggressors" are in custody, Nichols said.
Like the home invasions that Hunt committed in 2001, masked members of the ring used open windows and doors to gain entry into homes, usually late at night, police said. They selected homes at random and, once inside, took anything of value.
"They simply drove around waiting to find unsuspecting people," Nichols said. "From our position and from the information that we've been able to glean, there was no preplanning on any of this. It was, what are you doing tonight, let's go drive around and see what we can get into."
Hunt was believed to have been involved in several similar home invasions in 2001. In some cases, the crimes escalated beyond robberies. A few women were sexually assaulted. In one instance, a woman was raped as her boyfriend and 8-year-old daughter were in the next room.
Only one home invasion this year resulted in a victim being hospitalized. A 44-year-old man was shot in the hip while trying to flee assailants in his northwest valley home.
Police have not released the details of where and when the 17 crimes took place.
One of those incidents was in Henderson at the Promontory Point Apartments, 360 Arroyo Grande Blvd., near Warm Springs Road. Late at night on April 5, George Burroughs and Cathy Davich were victimized by the suspects, police confirmed Monday.
Three men quickly entered their first-floor apartment through a sliding glass door, which was open a few inches while the couple watched television. They tied up the couple with zip ties and ransacked their apartment at gunpoint, taking an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 in electronics and other equipment.
Burroughs said Monday that he was relieved that the suspects have been caught.
"It makes me feel confident in the Police Department that they were doing their due diligence," he said.
The suspects removed Burroughs' eyeglasses during the robbery, so he didn't get a good look at them. But Burroughs said Davich "blew a sigh of relief" when she saw the suspects' photos. She recognized two of the intruders in the mug shots.
"I feel a lot safer," he said.
Since the robbery, they have moved to a different apartment complex.
After securing search warrants, detectives recovered much of the merchandise at the suspects' homes and in vehicles.
They now have the responsibility of returning the items to their owners, which Nichols said will begin soon.
The suspects were pawning the stolen items or trading them for other items, he said.
Burroughs said he did not hear about the arrests from police. He has not recovered any of his property, aside from an Xbox 360 console that was damaged when it fell off the roof of the suspects' car as it was leaving Burroughs' apartment complex the night of the robbery.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at email@example.com or 702-383-0440.