SAN JOSE -- Two Watsonville residents are spending the holidays in jail for suspected Grinch-like behavior after they broke into a string of West San Jose homes as the residents slept soundly, and pilfered their homes and took presents from under trees, police said.

Fernando Ochoa and Candy Aguilar, both 22, are sitting in Santa Clara County Jail following their Dec. 16 arrests on suspicion of first-degree burglary, conspiracy, and possessing both stolen property and burglary tools. Aguilar also faces a count of resisting arrest, said Sgt. Heather Randol, spokeswoman for the San Jose Police Department.

Ochoa and Aguilar pried their way into a half-dozen homes on Laurelei Avenue -- near O'Connor Hospital -- and proceeded to creep through the homes and leave with items, police said. But they aroused suspicion upon hitting their sixth home when a neighbor saw two people with flashlights in a backyard and called police.

Patrol officers arrived as Aguilar exited the home, and around the same time heard the crashes and the sounds of someone jumping fences, Randol said. Other officers who surrounded the area ran down the man making the sound, since identified as Ochoa, and arrested him. Soon after they arrested Aguilar.

Randol said officers found their car down the street and uncovered a trove of stolen items inside, including a computer, binoculars, cameras, tablets and at least eight wrapped gifts.

"They were taking presents from underneath the tree," Randol said.

Most of the stolen property was returned. Randol said the episode should serve as a reminder that a lit Christmas tree, while festive, can also serve as a beacon for potential burglars, and that residents should be mindful about what can be seen through windows and to ensure entry points are secure.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at