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Arrest made in nationwide string of J.C. Penney burglaries

  • Story Highlights
  • Authorities recovered about $3.5 million in stolen property; 5 stores hit
  • Hector Castillo was "mastermind" behind burglaries, Louisiana sheriff says
  • Sheriff: Suspect has 27 known aliases and 16 Social Security numbers
  • Detectives are working with J.C. Penney officials to return property
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(CNN) -- Authorities in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, say they have arrested a suspect and recovered more than $3 million in stolen property in a multistate string of J.C. Penney store burglaries.

Authorities said they recovered approximately $3.5 million in stolen property.

Hector Castillo of Houston, Texas, is under arrest in connection with a string of J.C. Penney burglaries.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain announced the arrest of Hector Castillo of Houston, Texas, on Wednesday.

Police said the suspect admitted to his involvement in five J.C. Penney store burglaries nationwide during questioning. Investigators are still trying to identify accomplices in what they believe was a group.

"We believe that he is the mastermind," Strain said of the suspect. "We believe that he is the one who called the shots, we believe that he is the one that made the decisions on which stores and when they do it."

The rash of thefts began in June, with a break-in at a J.C. Penney store in Indiana. Two of the chain department stores were hit in Texas in July, and in August, two more were burglarized in Louisiana.

Louisiana police, acting on information obtained during the investigation, made the arrest in Pasadena, Texas, on Tuesday in conjunction with local authorities.

Castillo was booked on two outstanding theft warrants in Texas and as a fugitive from St. Tammany Parish, police said.

Strain said the suspect has 27 known aliases and used as many as 16 Social Security numbers.

Authorities said they found stolen property inside the suspect's home and in two other storage locations. Strain estimated the value of the recovered property at about $3.5 million.

Police released photographs showing a full garbage bag and a table crammed with recovered watches and jewelry.

Detectives are working with J.C. Penney officials to coordinate the return of the recovered property, police said.

CNN's Sean Callebs contributed to this report.

All About J.C. Penney Co. Inc.Burglary

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