Would-be bank robber flees empty-handed in West Covina

WEST COVINA — A man tried to rob a bank branch Friday, but apparently got spooked and fled empty-handed, police said.
The crime took place just after 9 a.m. at a Bank of America branch in the Eastland Shopping Center, 2901 Eastland Center Drive, West Covina police Lt. Richard Bell said.
A man entered the bank and handed a demand note to a teller, the lieutenant said.
The teller did not respond, he said, and the robber seemingly became nervous and fled the bank without any money.
He was last seen heading north from the bank on foot.
Police described the would-be robber as a bearded Latino man of slightly heavy build, wearing a dark shirt, blue jeans, a baseball cap and multicolored gloves.

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Pink-clad, hatchet wielding Darth Vader bank robbery suspect arrested in Rowland Heights

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — An Albertsons clerk was behind bars Friday on suspicion of robbing a bank branch inside the grocery store where he worked while wielding a hatchet and wearing pink scrubs and a Darth Vader mask, authorities said.
Gregory Sanchez, 46, of Rowland Heights was arrested about three hours after Thursday’s 11 a.m. robbery at the Bank of America branch inside an Albertsons store, 19725 E. Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Parker said.
Sheriff’s and FBI investigators identified Sanchez, a courtesy clerk at the Albertsons where the robbery took place, as a suspect in the crime shortly after it occurred, the captain said. “By then, he had gone to work.”
“He was arrested about 50 feet from where the robbery occurred,” Parker said.
Sanchez is accused of entering the store with a hatchet dressed in pink medical scrubs and a Darth Vader mask from the Star Wars series of movies.
The movie mask was initially reported to sheriff’s officials by a witness as a sun visor and a long black wig.
Brandishing the hatchet, he demanded cash from a teller at the bank branch inside the store and received an undisclosed amount before fleeing in a tan sedan, Lt. John Saleeby said.
Sheriff’s officials declined to say how Sanchez was identified as a suspect prior to his arrest.
According to sheriff’s booking records, he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Station. He was due for arraignment Tuesday at West Covina Superior Court.
“Bank robbery is a very serious matter and very frightening to victims and witnesses,” Saleeby added in a written statement. “We are glad no one was hurt and that we have a suspect in custody.”

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Sierra Madre gas station customers victims of ID theft

SIERRA MADRE — About 80 customers of a Sierra Madre gas station have had their identities stolen, and police sought more victims Thursday, officials said.
The alleged identity thefts took place over the past month at EVG Quality Gas, at Baldwin Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said.
The gas station closed down about a week ago, he added.
Police learned Monday that customers of the station were having their credit card and debit card numbers used without their permission, the sergeant said. The investigation continued Thursday, when police had identified about 80 victims.
Anyone who has used their credit or debit cards at EVG Quality Gas and noticed unauthorized activity on their accounts is asked to contact the Sierra Madre Police Department.
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Robbery reported at Rosemead cell phone store

ROSEMEAD — Two men used a handgun Thursday to rob a cell phone store employee of her ring and valuable purse, authorities said.
The woman, who was in her 30s, was working at a cell phone store at Valley and Rosemead Boulevard about 1:30 p.m. when the robbers arrived, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tom McNeal said.
“One came in and distracted her, then the other came in with a gun,” the lieutenant said.
The robbers stole the woman’s diamond ring and searched through drawers in the store in search of valuables, McNeal said. After finding nothing, they led the woman to the back of the store and stole her purse.
The purse contained only about $10, officials said, but the purse itself was valued at about $2,000. Two wallets inside the purse were valued at $200-$300 each.
The robbers were described as two black men in their mid- to late-20s, about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and 150 to 180 pounds. They both wore jackets and hoods.
Deputies received conflicting information as to whether a getaway car was involved.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Temple Station.
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Man pleads no contest to threatening public officials

From City News Service:
ALHAMBRA — A man who tried to get his estranged wife in trouble by making it look like she was threatening public officials, including Sheriff Lee Baca, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm springs, pleaded no contest Thursday.
ichael Karl McNeil, 37, of Susanville, sent the e-mails in July 2008 using an e-mail account he created to “set up his estranged wife,” said Deputy District Attorney Jose Gonzalez.
He pleaded no contest to six counts of criminal threats and three counts of attempted criminal threats, Gonzalez said.
he charges to which McNeil pled involve threats against Baca, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective who investigated the case, Lassen County District Attorney Bob Burns, a Lassen County judge and a staff member from Mack’s office.
he attempted threats involved Boxer, Mack and Lassen County Public Defender David Marcus.
cNeil, a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter, has been in jail since his Aug. 6, 2008, arrest by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Arson Explosives Detail.
He is facing 19 years and eight months in prison, with sentencing set for March 10 before Alhambra Superior Court Judge Laura Priver.
ore than two-dozen other counts against McNeil are expected to be dismissed when he is sentenced.
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Car stolen from Arcadia gas station

ARCADIA — A thief stole a man’s car Thursday as he put air in his tire at gas station, police said.
The crime took place about 12:10 p.m. at a 76 Station at Huntington Drive and Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. Mike Castro said.
A man stopped at the station and left the engine running while he put air in his tire, the sergeant said. He then noticed his white Toyota Corolla began to move.
He saw a crook described only as a white man with gray hair in the driver’s seat and grabbed onto the door handle as the car drove off, he said.
The door handle broke off, police said, and the victim suffered minor injuries as he fell to the ground.
The thief fled in the stolen car.
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Young woman’s death near Azusa remains under investigation

AZUSA — The cause of death for a 21-year-old woman found dead in her home in an unincorporated county area near Azusa this week remained under investigation Thursday, though foul play was not initially suspected, officials said.
Roommates discovered Jessica Cabrera, 21, unresponsive in the bathroom of their home in the 18400 block of Nearfield Street shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sgt. Domenick Recchia said in a written statement.
“We don’t see any signs of foul play,” the sergeant said, though he added there were no obvious signs of trauma on the body, and it was not clear how the woman died.
The investigation now hinges on the results of an autopsy, through which investigators from the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will determine an officials cause of death.
“At this time, we just have to wait,” Recchia said.
The autopsy had not been scheduled Thursday afternoon, coroner’s officials said.
Homicide detectives were called in to investigate the case primarily because of the woman’s age, Recchia said, and the fact that it was not immediately clear how she died.
“We’ll handle it accordingly until we find out the true determination of her cause of death,” he said.
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Hatchet-wielding man in pink robs Rowland Heights bank branch

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — A hatchet-wielding man dressed in pink robbed a bank branch inside a grocery store Thursday, authorities said.
The crime was reported just after 11 a.m. at a Bank of America branch inside Albertsons, 19725 E. Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
The robber, wearing pink medical scrubs, a long black wig and a sun visor, brandished a hatchet as he demanded money from a teller, officials said.
No further description was available.
Saleeby said he was last seen fleeing the area in a tan-colored sedan with an unknown amount of cash.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station.
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Cash register stolen in Monrovia liquor store robbery

MONROVIA — A group of masked and armed robbers fled with the cash register from a liquor store in a robbery late Tuesday, police said.
The crime took place about 8:50 p.m. at Al’s Liquors, 412 W. Duarte Road, Monrovia police Lt. Nels Ortlund said.
Three robbers entered the store, pointed a chrome-colored semi-automatic handgun at a lone clerk and ripped the cash register from the counter, the lieutenant said.
They fled with the register, which contained more than $500, and got into a car with a waiting driver, he said.
Police described the robbers as three black men in their 20s, of thin build. Two wore ski masks during the robbery, while another wore a hooded sweat shirt.
No description of the getaway driver was available, Ortlund said, and the car was described only as a silver or light-colored sedan.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt,” he added.
The lieutenant said detectives were reviewing footage captured by nearby surveillance cameras for clues.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Monrovia Police Department.
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Hiker rescued after falling into Eaton Canyon Waterfall

Sheriff’s and fire officials rescued a 19-year-old hiker Tuesday who was injured after falling into the Eaton Canyon Waterfall in the forest north of Pasadena, authorities said.
Eight other hikers who were with him, all between the ages of 15 and 19, were also escorted out of the forest just as it was getting dark, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Parker said. None of the hikers, who were all Korean-speaking, had supplies or flashlights with them.
The group of nine hikers set out at about noon, officials said.
Around 5 p.m., just as it was beginning to get dark, the 19-year-old hiker, an El Monte resident, “fell down into a waterfall and was injured so badly he could not climb back up,” Parker said.
A member of the group then called authorities for help.
Sheriff’s and fire officials, with the help of a sheriff’s helicopter, found seven of the hikers together in a group, and another who had become separated from the rest and was lost, Parker said.
Rescuers hoisted the injured hiker from the waterfall and airlifted to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
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