'Tinseltown burglary' suspects plead not guilty

Two Medford men have pleaded not guilty to charges that they committed four home burglaries as the residents watched movies at Tinseltown Theaters.

Chris Steven Lopez, 30, and David Michael Sweitzer, 32, appeared before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Bill Purdy on charges of felony theft and burglary in connection with a series of crimes that occurred between December 2007 and March 2008.

Lopez was arraigned Thursday on four counts of first-degree burglary, a single count of attempted first-degree burglary, four counts of first-degree theft, four counts of unlawful entry to a motor vehicle and three counts of aggravated theft.

Sweitzer, arraigned on Aug. 13 before Purdy, pleaded not guilty to single counts each of first-degree burglary, first-degree theft, and unlawful entry to a motor vehicle.

Lopez and Sweitzer allegedly broke into cars parked outside Tinseltown and stole registration information that contained the victims' addresses. They would then drive to the home, knowing that the victim was at the movie, and steal flat-screen televisions, stereo equipment, musical instruments and jewelry, police said. They would then sell the items, possibly online utilizing craigslist.

Medford police estimated the total loss to the victims was about $25,000.

Lopez was arrested in connection with an unrelated burglary on Western Avenue on June 30, said Medford police detective Sgt. Mike Budreau. He pleaded not guilty on Aug. 8 to a single charge of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree theft and a single count of second-degree criminal mischief.

Alecia Ann Gonzalez, 24, was charged with first-degree theft for reportedly helping Lopez store the stolen property. She was released from jail after posting bail. Gonzalez has not yet been arraigned.

Budreau said Lopez was selling the items on craigslist after the Western Avenue heist. Investigators have reason to believe he was doing the same with the previous burglaries, Budreau said.

Lopez has a lengthy criminal history and was involved in a burglary ring in 1999. While a clerk at the Medford YMCA, he gave members' addresses to two men who broke into homes while the victims were at the Y. One of the men he dealt with at the time was Edward Silva, 30, who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence for a string of local bank robberies committed in 2006.

Lopez remained in the Jackson County Jail Tuesday on $136,000 bail. Sweitzer remained in jail on $43,000 bail.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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