Defendant in massive car break-in series gets 12 years
by Neal Putnam
Published - 08/29/12 - 03:19 PM | 5334 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An auto mechanic was sentenced Aug. 16 to 12 years in state prison after a judge refused to allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas in a massive series of car burglaries in Ocean Beach, La Jolla Shores and Pacific Beach.

Curt Lonnie Simnitt, 40, was fined more than $6,400 after San Diego Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring told Simnitt he reviewed a complete transcript of the March 8 hearing when Simmitt pleaded guilty before another judge to 16 counts.

Simnitt signed his plea form as “Curt Duress” before Judge Fred Link, who caught the signature shenanigan. The joke or stunt wasn’t noticed by Simnitt’s attorney at the time, and the attorney later quit. Simnitt hired a new attorney and maintained last week he signed the form under duress.

“I don’t think there is any evidence of duress,” said Moring. “You were given many opportunities to say something.”

Simnitt was linked to 27 car burglaries, but there were likely many more unreported after San Diego police uncovered a large amount of stolen property at Simnitt’s home on Lake Aral Drive in San Carlos on Jan. 13.

There were purses, wallets, cell phones, backpacks, wet suits, surfboards, watches, clothing, credit cards, iPads and other things, according to investigators.

Simnitt pleaded guilty to nine car burglaries, three counts of identity theft and one count each of forgery, possession of methamphetamine, grand theft and receiving stolen property.

He had been charged with 80 counts, but Link dismissed the rest after Simnitt pleaded guilty.

The county probation department interviewed a Canadian couple who were vacationing at La Jolla Shores and they said they hid their car keys in some sand and covered it by a rock. When they returned, they found the thief took everything, including their birth certificates, glasses, credits cards and cell phone.

Many other victims said they had also hidden their car keys near their vehicles. But Simnitt was apparently watching where people left their keys, according to his probation report. He also broke car windows to gain access and take property.
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