Man pleads guilty to burglarizing homes tented for fumigation

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Salvador Amador Padilla

SAN DIEGO — A man suspected in a series of break-ins at homes that were tented for fumigation pleaded guilty Friday to one count each of residential burglary and attempted residential burglary.

Salvador Amador Padilla, 34, faces about six years and four months in prison when he is sentenced June 7, said Deputy District Attorney Gordon Davis.

Four to five residential burglaries are still under investigation, and Padilla could face more charges in the future, according to the prosecutor.

Steven Baugh testified at a preliminary hearing last month that he had a security system installed just before his tented home in North Bay Terraces was broken into sometime after Jan. 11.

From a remote location, Baugh saw someone in his home via video, and he drove to the residence to find out what was going on.

Once there, Baugh said he saw a knife coming out of the fumigation tent and called 911 to report a burglary in progress.

Baugh’s wife, Mercedes, said she went to their home the following day and found a television disassembled on a bed and jewelry boxes dumped.

San Diego police Officer Richard Sullivan said he went to the home on Jan. 14 and found it in “disarray.”

Officer Edwin Carbajal testified that he lifted a fingerprint off the television. The print was compared to a database and was identified as Padilla’s, said latent print examiner Jeffrey Graham.

Detective Robert Schmidt testified that a 1995 Jeep Cherokee was spotted at numerous burglaries in San Diego since last July.

On Feb. 9, Padilla tried to gain entry to a home but gave up and drove away, police said. The defendant was spotted driving the 1995 Jeep Cherokee and was pulled over and arrested by officers who found a black bag containing burglary tools and a respirator mask, according to court testimony.

Detective Claudia Shadoan — the lead investigator on the fumigation burglary series — testified that in seven reported break-ins, the suspect cut the fumigation tent open.