Prolific Spanish Burglar Gets Lighter Sentence for Helping California Cops

A confessed burglar from Spain described by police as one of the most prolific thieves in Los Angeles history was resentenced Tuesday to 7 1/2 years in prison after making a police training video showing how he stole about $16 million in property, including a Degas painting.

In an effort to win the slightly reduced sentence, Ignacio DelRio, also known as Ricardo Caveda, also drew a map that led police to some $400,000 worth of stolen goods he had buried under a San Fernando Valley freeway overpass.

"He confessed to 1,000 burglaries, and I have been able to find 180 victims so far," police Detective Robert Longacre said after the sentencing.

Longacre declined to name any of the victims but said they included well-known people in the movie industry and at least one high-ranking corporate leader.

When he was arrested in early 2006 while burglarizing a San Fernando Valley home, DelRio was pulling off four jobs a day and was frantic to increase the number because he knew police were onto him, Longacre said.

"He said he did it for the adrenaline rush, for the challenge," the detective said.

DelRio, 33, a native of Barcelona, Spain, was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of 16 counts of burglary, receiving stolen property and attempted escape. That term was reduced to eight years before he agreed to help police find loot and do the training video.

Before Tuesday's resentencing by Superior Court Judge Richard H. Kirschner, the dark-eyed defendant spoke briefly in English. With a heavy Spanish accent, he said he had made many "bad decisions" that hurt his family and his victims.

He said he hoped that by returning property and cooperating with police he had repaid some of his debt to society.

Under his new sentence, he will be given credit for nearly three years of time served and time off for good behavior.

Attorney Mark Bledstein, who represents DelRio, said his client would probably be deported to Spain after his release.

"He wants to go back," Bledstein said.

Among other things, police said DelRio stole more than $2 million worth of jewelry and a $10 million Degas painting. He sometimes cleaned up after ransacking rooms so the burglaries wouldn't be detected until later.

The items buried under the freeway bridge were stuffed in socks and included gold chains and necklaces, diamond rings and Rolex watches. Longacre said the loot was gathered in just one month by DelRio, whose burglary spree in the city began in 2004.

Prosecutor Edward Neson joined Longacre and Bledstein in telling Judge Kirschner that DelRio was the most intriguing defendant they have encountered.

Longacre said DelRio came to the United States with the hope of becoming a martial arts champion. He attended San Diego State University and received a degree in business before falling in with a group of thieves.

He taught himself how to defeat alarm systems, open safes and commit identity theft, changing his name every 30 days.

"He reminded me of a character in 'Ocean's Thirteen,"' Neson said, referring to the hit movie.