$10,000 reward offered for info leading to capture of the ‘Plain Jane Bandit’

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A bank is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a female bank robber linked to six heists this month in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties — including ones in Whittier and Santa Fe Springs.
The “Plain Jane Bandit,” as the FBI is calling her, began her spree of bank robberies July 12 at a U.S. Bank branch at 13372 E. Telegraph Road in Santa Fe Springs, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
She then robbed another U.S. Bank branch in Whittier, 13525 Whittier Blvd., July 19; a Chase bank in Moreno Valley on July 23; a U.S. Bank in Moreno Valley on July 23; a U.S. Bank in Buena Park on July 24 and a U.S. Bank in Wildomar on July 24, FBI and local police officials said.
U.S. Bank, which was the target of five of the six robberies reported in the series, has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bandit, Eimiller said.
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“During the robberies, the suspect uses written and verbal demands and indicates that someone, possible an accomplice, is waiting for her outside the bank,” Eimiller said. A second suspect has not been spotted during the crimes.
Authorities described the “Plane Jane Bandit” as a Latino, in her mid- to late-30s, between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 160 pounds. A dour-door, silver vehicle was also reported by witnesses as a possibly getaway car.
Anyone with information is asked to immediately contact a local FBI office, or call 9-1-1.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
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Urn of ashes dropped off at El Monte church; police seek owner

EL MONTE — Police sought the public’s help Friday in finding the owner of an urn of what appeared to be cremated remains dropped off by a man with socks covering his hands at a church last week.
The man entered a church in central El Monte on July 20th carrying the urn, El Monte police Lt. Dan Burlingham said. He wore socks over his hands in an apparent attempt to keep his finger prints off the vessel, Burlingham said.
The man told church officials, “He wanted nothing to do with it and wanted to do the right thing so it could be returned to the family,” the lieutenant said. A note with a similar message was found taped to the urn.
After a week of investigation, detectives had not been able to determine where the urn came from or locate the rightful owner, Burlingham said. There was no name or identifying information on the urn.
Police described the man who dropped of the urn as a Latino man in his early- to mid-40s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, 160 pounds, with black hair in a long pony tail and brown eyes. He had a mustache and possibly tattoos on his chest, and appeared to be transient.
Authorities declined to disclose which church the ashes were dropped off at.
Anyone with information was asked to call the El Monte Police Department at 626-580-2100.
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Shoe-throwing suspect in custody after 10-hour stand-off in El Monte

EL MONTE — El Monte police evacuated about 80 residents Thursday from an apartment complex where a 36-year-old man barricaded himself for more than 10 hours, set a small fire and threw shoes at a SWAT team.
Shen Myint-Thu Latweef ultimately surrendered to authorities about 2:30 a.m. Friday following the stand-off at his apartment inside a large complex in the 3700 block of Peck Road, El Monte police Lt. Dan Burlingham said.
He was taken for psychiatric evaluation as police investigated him on suspicion of attempted arson, police said.
Lt. David Vautrin said an apartment manager called police Thursday afternoon police because the man had been acting strangely. He recently used black tape to tape the windows, was reportedly banging on the walls and was overheard having a verbal dispute with family on the phone.
Officials said they were told Latweef moved into the complex about three months ago.
Officers went to the man’s apartment at 4:23 p.m.
“(He was) initially argumentative with officers,” Vautrin said.
Latweef shut the door on them, officials said. Officers saw smoke coming out of the apartment but the fire in the apartment went out a short time later.
The man didn’t answer the phone when police called the apartment. He tossed shoes at the officers, Vautrin said.
Vautrin said officials shut down the gas to the complex and summoned a SWAT team. The SWAT officers made phone calls to the apartment, tossed in a camera the size of a softball and deployed pepper balls and pepper gas.
But Latweef remained inside for several more hours until he finally surrendered without further incident, police said.
The Red Cross was notified about the evacuated residents, Burlingham said. They were being housed at the gym in Lambert Park until the situation ended early Friday morning.
– Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day
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Two separate robberies reported in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK — Police are investigating after two unrelated robberies in Baldwin Park Wednesday evening and early Thursday.
The crimes were reported about 7:40 p.m. Wednesday outside a market in the 13000 block of Francisquito Avenue, and about 12:45 a.m. at a convenience store in the 13000 block of Los Angeles Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mark Harvey said.
A man was outside his car in front of a market when he was approached by a man and woman, the sergeant said.
The robbers took the man’s car keys by force before fleeing in his 2008 Nissan Frontier, Harvey said. No weapons were seen.
The car was found abandoned a short time later only a few blocks away in the 3800 block of Cosbey Street.
Police described the male robber as a Latino man in his late 30s, heavy-set, with a tattoo on one of his forearms reading, “eastside.” The female suspect was described as Latino and in her late 20s.
Officers received word of the second robbery about five hours later.
A man had been standing near a Los Angeles Street convenience store when he was approached by a group of young men, “what he described as five or six cholo-type suspects,” Harvey said.
The  group made gang-related statements and robbed the man of his wallet, police said. No weapons were used in the heist.
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Shooting victim shows up at Pasadena Hospital

PASADENA — A man showed up at a local hospital with a gunshot wound late Wednesday, but refused to cooperate with police investigating the shooting.
The wounded man, who is in his 30s, was dropped off at Huntington Hospital about 8:45 p.m., Pasadena police Lt. Rick Aversano said. He had been shot in the hip and groin.
“The victim was uncooperative, and would not provide any info as to who shot him or where the incident occurred,” the lieutenant said. He was believed to have ties to a local street gang.
Officers had responded about 20 minutes earlier to a report of “shots fired” in the area of Raymond Avenue and Tremont Street, but found no evidence of a shooting, Aversano said. Police were looking into whether the incidents were related.
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Driver robbed by gunman in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS — Police said an armed man thumped a car with his hand to get a driver’s attention then robbed him of money and jewelry Wednesday.
The 2:45 p.m robbery occurred on Arrow Highway and Valley Center Avenue.
Glendora police Lt. Joe Ward said a 62-year-old Anaheim man was pulling over to answer his cell phone. As he was trying to park between two vehicles, Ward said the man heard a loud thump in front of his car.
The driver saw a man with a gun who demanded money.
In addition to the cash, Ward said the robber also took some jewelry.
A silver van then pulled up. Ward said the robber jumped into the van which left.
The suspect was described as a Latino in his 20s with short dark hair. He wore a black shirt.
Ward said Glendora police took a courtesy report for the sheriff’s San Dimas station which is handling the robbery.
– Ruby Gonzales
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Car chase ends with crash in Industry

A couple in a stolen 1993 Honda Accord were arrested after a pursuit that ended with the car crashing into a hydrant in Industry Wednesday night.
Sheriff’s Sgt. John Stanley said the car was reported stolen to Brea Police on Wednesday. It has a LoJack security system.
Around 9:30 p.m., a deputy from the sheriff’s Walnut/Diamond Bar station got a LoJack signal from the car at Lemon Avenue and Valley Boulevard. She next spotted the car about ten minutes later on Gale Avenue and Stoner Creek Road in Industry, according to Stanley.
He said the suspect was driving recklessly and weaving in and out of traffic.
The deputy followed the car and last saw it getting on the 60 Freeway. Stanley said a sheriff’s helicopter took over.
The driver got off the freeway at Hacienda Boulevard then went back on the freeway. He exited at 7th Avenue and hit a fire hydrant, Stanley said.
Stanley said the driver ran, leaving his female passenger. Deputies caught the man.
The couple were arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto and possession of stolen property, Stanley said. He didn’t know what stolen items were found in the car.
The suspects’ names, ages and cities of residences weren’t available because they were still being booked at the station.
– Ruby Gonzales
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Body found hanging from tree in Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A man’s body was discovered in the forest Wednesday afternoon.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Pete Shupe said the body was found at 2:34 p.m. near Highway 39 at mile marker 30. The station got a call from forestry officials, he added.
It was reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner as a body hanging from a tree on the side of the road, according to Lt. Fred Corral of the Coroner’s Office.
A Sheriff’s homicide detective was still at the scene as of Wednesday night.
There were no further details. 
– Ruby Gonzales
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Massive, county-wide parolee sweep targets gangs

In an effort to combat gang violence and crime, more than 1,100 parole and police officials visited about 340 parolees Wednesday in a massive anti-gang parole compliance sweep dubbed, “Operation Guardian.”
The campaign spanned the entire county, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Parole Agent Bernard Villar said, with teams based out of cities including Covina, Rosemead, El Monte, Monterey Park, Pasadena and Whittier.
Preliminary results from the effort showed at least 69 parolees arrested and the seizure of at least five guns, ammunition, 35 “knives, swords and machetes,” 20 marijuana plants, 156 grams of marijuana and 30 grams of cocaine, CDCR Division of Adult Parole Operations Director Robert Ambroselli said. Additionally, 
“This is one of the largest and most comprehensive sweeps in recent years,” he said.
What was being investigated as a potential methamphetamine lab was found during a compliance check in Lake Los Angeles, officials said.
In Hollywood, the Department of Children and Family Services became involved a parolee was arrested after being found in bed, nude, with and infant and two other children, ages 3 and 5, authorities said. Two of the children were not his, and the investigation was ongoing.
Parole compliance checks are done throughout the year by parole officials to make sure those released from prison on parole are obeying the conditions of release, however Wednesday’s large effort specifically targeted parolees ordered to refrain from gang-related activity.
“We’re concentrating on the special conditions — gang conditions,” he said.
Villar led a team of more than a dozen parole agents, corrections officers and Covina police officers that targeted five Covina parolees, and one from West Covina. The team arrested two parolees on suspicion of violating their parole, and planned to seek warrants for two others who were not home at the time of the operation.
Officials jailed Eric Perez, a 27-year-old gang member on parole for assault with a deadly weapon, at his home in the 100 block of Edna Place, near Citrus Avenue.
Perez was not home when officers showed up, but quickly arrived when summoned by his parole officer. Agents took him into custody after a CDCR drug-sniffing dog found a small amount of marijuana inside the car he was driving. He was also accused of violation parole by staying overnight at a location other than his listed home without notifying his parole officer.
At a house near 2nd Avenue and Workman Avenue, about a block south from a spot where residents reported hearing gunshots early Wednesday, agents and officers arrested 36-year-old Ruben Velasquez.
He allegedly violated his parole by having gang paraphernalia, in the form of graffiti-marked items, in his bedroom, where he also had a large kitchen knife hidden under his mattress, Villar said. Authorities also suspected he may have been under the influence of drugs when they visited his home on 2nd Street, near Workman Avenue.
A parolee living in the 100 block of South Robin Road was apparently at work when officials knocked at his door. While searching his bedroom, officers and agents found a half-dozen hypodermic needles, a scale and other evidence of apparent heroin use.
The parolee was expected to be arrested on a parole violation for possession of narcotics paraphernalia when found, according to Parole Agent Cynthia Martinez.
A marijuana plant was also found in the home’s backyard, however someone else living in the house claimed responsibility for it, officials said.
At another home in the 600 block of S. Calvados Avenue in Covina, the parolee targeted was not home during the early morning visit. Suspecting that the parolee had been staying elsewhere without notifying his parole officer, as required, officials planned to seek a warrant for his arrest.
Pasadena Police Department Sgt. Bobby Crees said gang violence in Pasadena has gone down in recent years, partially due to the department’s reintegration program for parolees. Crees said many gang members have taken their illegal activity into other cities because of the Pasadena Police Department’s crack-down, which includes unannounced visits like the one on Monday.
“It keeps them on their toes,” Crees said. “We want to make sure they know don’t be dirty in Pasadena because we’ll catch you.”
Commander John Perez said the Pasadena Police Department prides itself on its reintegration program, which offers monthly support meetings, help parolees find employment and a place to live and other educational and support services. He said police also work to clean up problem neighborhoods linked to gang violence and do outreach for youths suspected of being gang members.
“We make sure we’re trying to resolve the issues in that house, for that block, for that neighborhood,” Perez said. “We really try to give (parolees) a chance to do something different with their lives instead of getting arrested.”
Many of the parolees and their family members were still in their pajamas when police knocked forcefully on their door near sunrise, and many appeared irritated when speaking with officers. The father of one parolee became agitated with officers at his Pasadena home at about 8:30 a.m., telling them “This is my house” and “I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
Roland Mimms, 42, cussed at a female officer as he stood handcuffed and shirtless outside his Monrovia home. Mimms was later arrested for possession of a sword and drug paraphernalia. His girlfriend Vanessa Laskin, 22, was also arrested at Mimms’ home after police discovered she had a no-bail warrant for assault from the Glendale Police Department
Some residents of homes visited by officials Wednesday were not visibly upset by their presence.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Phillip Montes of West Covina, as authorities searched the bedroom of his daughter’s boyfriend. He added that he believed the officers and agents were only, “doing their job.”
In addition to Mimms and Laskin, Pasadena police and parole agents also arrested Vilson Abelyan, 29, of Glendale on a $75,000 warrant for possession of a switchblade from the Los Angeles Police Department. Abelyan was seen about an hour after his arrest walking out of the Pasadena Police Department.
To the south, Whittier police officers joined with CDCR officials to check on the homes of five parolees — four in Whittier and one in La Habra, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said. Results of the Whittier-area compliance checks were not available Wednesday afternoon.
CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate and other officials commended the teams and thanked them for their work.
“The number of parolees who were arrested and the number of guns, ammunition and drugs taken off the streets show how important these pro-active searches in cooperation with our local law enforcement partners are to public safety,” Cate said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca agreed.
“It sends a clear message,” he said of Wednesday’s operation. “Unless we go after those who are violating the law, we can’t send the message that we’ll continue to do our duty 24/7.”
There are about 16,000 people on parole in L.A. County, officials said.
And with state prisons shrinking in population under the current state prison realignment plan, the role of parole supervision is more important than ever, Baca said.
“As our state goes through the realignment, we know we need to do more,” he said. “And we will do more.”
But the battle against gang-related crime doesn’t begin with the prison system, but with the family, Ambroselli said.
“The true frontline against gang violence is the parents at home,” he said, before announcing a new CDCR website designed to give parents resources to help them keep their children away from gangs.
“Our new web pages offer parents straight talk about gangs, links to emotional discussions with family members of innocent victims of gang-warfare, as well as parents of deceased gang-members,” he said.
The website can be found at www.cdcr.ca.gov/OperationGuardian.
– Brian Day and Lauren Gold
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Sheriff’s helicopter makes 3 forest rescues in 1 hour

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A sheriff’s helicopter crew had a busy afternoon earlier this month, hoisting three injured or stranded hikers out of the Angeles National Forest within an hour in three separate incidents north of Altadena and Arcadia, officials said.
The first rescue call came in about 1 p.m. July 13, when authorities received word that a Pasadena man had taken a fall and tumbled about 80 feet down Eaton Canyon, in the forest north of Altadena, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Phil Barth.
“He suffered moderate trauma injuries and was treated by Sheriff’s Emergency Services Detail paramedics and hoisted up into the aircraft,” Barth said.
As soon as the injured hiker was safely in the aircraft, the helicopter crew noticed another man who was “precariously perched” on a sheer cliff face about 150 feet above the canyon floor, the sergeant said.
The hiker was unable to move and was in a dire situation,” he said.
A paramedics was lowered down to the man, also a Pasadena resident, from the helicopter and also hoisted into the aircraft, officials said.
The chopper crew then flew the first hiker they rescued to a hospital for treatment.
“While at the hospital with the earlier rescued victim, Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5 (helicopter crew) received a call of yet another person who had fallen over 60 feet at the base of Hermit Falls, at the Chantry Flat Campground north of Arcadia,” Barth said.
They responded to the scene and, once again, treated the hiker, hoisted him up into the helicopter and flew him to a hospital, authorities said. The condition of the man, a Moorpark resident, was not available.
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