Andre Clayton

Andre Clayton

A 26-year-old Hemet man is behind bars, accused of stealing computer equipment worth thousands of dollars from Santa Barbara-area schools, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Andre Clayton was taken into custody Sunday by sheriff’s detectives, assisted by the Hemet Police Department, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Clayton is suspected of stealing $10,000 in computer equipment from Vieja Valley School on Jan. 24, and taking $15,000 in equipment from Laguna Blanca School on Jan. 26 and 27, Hoover said. All the break-ins occurred in the early morning hours.

“Clayton and other members of a documented gang out of Riverside County are suspected of committing school burglaries throughout Southern California beginning in November 2012,” Hoover said.

Evidence obtained during the investigation linked Clayton to the burglary at Vieja Valley School, Hoover said.

On Feb. 13, detectives served a search warrant on Clayton’s vehicle, and found evidence further linking him to the crimes, as well as a loaded handgun.

A search warrant was served on March 12 at Clayton’s residence in Hemet, and additional evidence was seized.

Clayton is charged with burglary, committing a crime to benefit a street gang, being an active participant in a street gang, carrying a concealed firearm within a vehicle, being a gang member carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm and not being the registered owner, and being a gang member carrying a loaded firearm within a vehicle in public.

He was being held at the Riverside County Jail, with bail set at $1 million, Hoover said, and was awaiting transport to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

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