GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– The man convicted of running a car break-in ring that targeted vehicles of people parked at funerals, churches and schools has been sentenced to 36 years in prison.

Ernesto Castanuela Jr. was sentenced on Friday morning.

Castanuela, 31, was convicted by a jury in October on 13 charges including trespass of an automobile with intent to commit a crime, theft and criminal mischief.

According to police and court records, Castanuela was the ringleader of a group that traveled to parking lots at schools, churches, funerals and other public locations.

Castanuela used a window punch device to break windows in cars that contained valuables, including purses and electronics.

Police were able to recover several purses, wallets and electronic devices that were stolen.

The district attorney successfully sought to have a judge designate Castanuela as a habitual criminal, based on his extensive criminal history.

That designation means that the court was required to sentence him to four times the maximum in the presumptive range for each of the underlying convictions.


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