‘Plain Jane Bandit’ strikes again

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WHITTIER — A robber dubbed the “The Plain Jane Bandit” hit a second Whittier-area bank Thursday, officials said.
No injuries were reported in the 4:17 p.m. robbery at U.S. Bank., 13525 Whittier Blvd.
A woman walked into the bank and presented a note demanding money, according to Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl.
He said the woman took the cash and left.
Police didn’t say how much money “The Plain Jane Bandit” stole.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the robber got the the moniker after a witness described the suspect as a “Plain Jane.”
Authorities believe the same woman robbed the U.S. Bank at 13372 Telegraph Road in Santa Fe Springs on July 12.
Eimiller said the woman also used a demand note during the Santa Fe Springs robbery. The handwriting was described as illegible, she added.
The FBI is working with Whittier Police on the robberies. Santa Fe Springs contracts with Whittier police.
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The suspect was described as Latina between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 4 inches tall and 135 to 145 pounds. She carried a purse or a satchel.
- Ruby Gonzales
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

Alhambra man among six suspected in baby formula scheme

LOS ANGELES — An Alhambra man was among the six people arrested Thursday for allegedly buying stolen baby formula to resell at higher prices.
Ashraf Sulaiman, 38, of Alhambra, Saad Yohanan, 55, of San Diego, Yusuf Ghazi Abu Dawas, 33, of Escondido, Anas Abudawwas, 28, of Escondido, Eyad Ibrahim Abu Dawas, 41, of Encinitas and Khair Zaben, 48, of Fontana were arrested without incident.
Ten federal search warrants were also served in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Investigators seized more than $750,000 from bank accounts plus cases of baby formula worth more than $500,000.
Yohanan, Sulaiman, Yusuf Dawas, Anas Abudawwas and Eyad Abu Dawas were charged with conspiring to transport and sell stolen goods. Other charges include transportation of stolen goods and possession, sale and receipt of stolen goods.
Zaben wasn’t accused of conspiracy. He was charged with transporting or aiding with the transporting of about 160 cases of stolen baby formula from Nevada to California on Feb. 21, 2012. He was also charged with the receipt, possession and sale of 160 cases of stolen formula on or after April 21, 2012.
The indictment alleged five of the suspects bought stolen infant formula from someone they thought was a supplier of stolen goods. But the supplier was actually an undercover federal agent who arranged for the sale of thousands of cases of infant formula and other items.
The suspects believed the supplier had access to the stolen merchandise based on ties to a freight forwarding company that makes deliveries across the United States, according to the indictment.
Authorities said throughout the case, investigators found no counterfeit products or evidence of tampering that posed a risk to public safety during the purchase, transfer or sale of the products.
The investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles and San Diego divisions of the FBI; the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General; the IRS – Criminal Investigations; Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
- Ruby Gonzales

Whittier area traffic stop leads to ID theft arrest

WHITTIER — A Santa Ana man faces identity theft and other charges after deputies found drugs and a flash drive containing names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers of several hundred people during a traffic stop.

Nicholas Chayette, 29, will be arraigned Friday in Whittier Superior Court.
The arrest stems from a Wednesday traffic stop at Washington Boulevard and Broadway in an unincorporated county area near Whittier.
Lt. Andrew Meyer of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station said deputies pulled over the vehicle for a minor traffic violation around 7:40 p.m.
But there were other violations once the deputies got closer.
“The car smelled like marijuana,” Meyer said.
Chayette, who was the passenger, turned out to be on probation for forgery and drug possession. Because he is on probation, he could be subjected to a search.
During the search, deputies found several credit cards which appeared to be fraudulent and a small data disk containing over one thousand electronic files, according to sheriff’s officials.
Meyer said it was a flash drive. A small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana were also discovered on the suspect, according to the lieutenant.
The files contained names, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, PIN numbers and other personal information.
Chayette was arrested on suspicion of making or altering an access card, unauthorized use of the personal identifying information of another person, possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.
He was being held at the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station without bail.
- Ruby Gonzales

Parolee arrested after fleeing from traffic stop

WHITTIER — Deputies arrested a wanted parolee following a neighborhood search after he fled from a traffic stop Thursday, police said.
Isaac Galindo, a 40-year-old transient, was booked on suspicion of violating parole and obstructing police, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Meyer said.
A deputy pulled him over for a minor traffic violation about noon in the area of Rockne Avenue, south of Whittier Boulevard, in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, the lieutenant said.
Galindo exited the car and ran, prompting deputies to set up a search perimeter, Meyer said. Galindo was found and arrested without further incident nearby on McKnees Avenue about 1:30 p.m.

Slain Arcadia police officer honored with memorial headstone

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ARCADIA — Officials unveiled a new memorial to the only Arcadia police officer to be killed in the line of duty Thursday, on the 85th anniversary of his murder.
Officer Albert Edward Matthies, 27, was gunned down when he came upon three men in a stolen car who were preparing to rob a business just before midnight on July 18, 1927, officials said. He died from his wounds early the following morning.
After more than a year of planning spearheaded by the Arcadia Police Officers’ Association, officials and family members of the fallen officer gathered to unveil a black granite monument to Matthies at his final resting place at Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia.
“I think it’s great that they’re still remembering him,” said Matthies’ great-granddaughter Sheryl Straub of Covina. “I’m just tickled to death that I get to be a part of this.”
Officials including Arcadia Police Chief Robert Guthrie and former chiefs Robert Sanderson and Neal Johnson joined fellow police and fire officials, as well as Arcadia Mayor Robert Harbicht, to commemorate Matthies’ sacrifice an unveil the 3-foot-tall, polished memorial emblazoned with a photograph of the officer.
Matthies daughter, Zora Kristufek, said she appreciated the gesture.
“This is something special,” she said.
Kristufek, 90, said she was only 6 years old when her father was murdered.
“The one thing I remember is that he was a big, happy man.”
Matthies granddaughter, Roxana Perez, travelled from her home in Arizona to attend the ceremony.
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“I was very impressed with the memorial and the ceremony,” she said. “It was very touching.”
“I’m just glad there haven’t been any other officers killed in the Arcadia Police Department,” Perez added.
At the time of Matthies’ death, the Arcadia police and fire departments were a unified agency, and Matthies also served as assistant fire chief. Matthies also served in the Army during World War I.
The three men who murdered Matthies were found several days after the slaying in Los Angeles and arrested, officials said. The shooter died in prison, while the other two suspects died shortly after being paroled.
A plaque placed near Foothill Boulevard and Northview Avenue marks the location of the fatal shooting.
Additionally, the APOA recently established a scholarship fund in the officer’s name, which presents a $2,000 scholarship annually to a local high school student who has served the community, officer and APOA Director Daniel Tea said.
An inscription at the base of the monument reads, “Officer Matthies made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and in service to the city of Arcadia. You will not be forgotten.”

Man accused of stealing from Vietnam veteran’s daughter during Marine’s funeral

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GLENDORA — Police jailed a man Thursday on suspicion of burglarizing the SUV of a Vietnam veteran’s daughter during a funeral for the Marine at a Glendora cemetery last month.
Jose Angel Abrajan, 31, was arrested at his Chino home Thursday morning, Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab said.
Police allege he attended a funeral for 64-year-old Aurelio Rodriguez of Eastvale on June 18 at the Oakdale Cemetery, where he posed as a mourner before helping himself to the purse of Rodriguez’s daughter, which had been left in an SUV parked nearby.
The daughter, Angela Earthman of Huntington Beach, said she noticed her purse was missing when she left the funeral. But it wasn’t until family members and friends reviewed photos from the ceremony later in the day that they realized they’d captured images of the burglar breaking into the SUV, as a Marine color guard ceremonially folded a flag and performed Taps in the foreground.
“I’m just so happy that they arrested him,” Earthman said. “For someone to do that… the crime itself is absolutely horrible.”
Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro agreed.
“This is a despicable crime to steal from people during an emotionally vulnerable time,” he said in a written statement. “I’m proud of the tenacious investigative work done by our detectives in capturing Abrajan and hopefully sending him to jail for a long time.”
Investigating officers realized whoever stole the purse had immediately begun using stolen credit cards to try to make purchases, Staab said.
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A surveillance video obtained from an Azusa In-N-Out restaurant provided police with an image of Abrajan trying to use one of Earthman’s cards to purchase food.
Authorities were also able to obtain a photograph of the person’s license plate, which was matched to Abrajan, the captain said.
Upon arresting Abrajan Thursday and searching his home, police also found other suspected stolen property, such as purses and cell phones, he said.
Abrajan was on probation for a receiving stolen property conviction at the time of his arrest, officials added.
“It looks like that’s what he’s doing for a living,” Staab said.
Abrajan was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, officials said.  
PHOTOS Courtesy of the Glendora Police Department. Top: booking photo of Jose Abrajan. Middle: surveillance photo of Jose Abrajan allegedly using a stolen credit card to try to purchase food at an Azusa In-N-Out. Bottom: Jose Abrajan can be seen in the background, posing as a mourner, during this photograph taken by a family friend at the funeral.
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Pasadena police seek missing schizophrenic woman

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PASADENA — Police asked the public’s help Thursday finding a mentally ill woman who went missing in Pasadena earlier this week.
Loretta Louise Cleese, 49, a transient, is schizophrenic and delusional, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
She had been a patient at Cedar Sinai hospital and had been transferred to Aurora Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, officials said.
“Las Encinas determined that she was stable enough to be released on Sunday,” according to the statement.
“After being released, Cleese was supposed to take a Greyhound bus to her daughter’s house in Oakley,” the statement said. “Her daughter has not seen or heard from Cleese.”
Police said Cleese has no money, identification or cell phone, and she is not familiar with the Pasadena area. 
She’s described as white, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pasadena police at 626-744-4241.
PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Police Department

Deputies: Diamond Bar parolee suspected of possessing bomb components

DIAMOND BAR — A Diamond Bar parolee was behind bars Thursday after deputies discovered bomb-making materials inside his home while investigating a report of a family disturbance, authorities said.
Steven Vern Ladd, 48, was arrested on suspicion of an outstanding narcotics warrant and possession of bomb components following Wednesday’s 9:30 a.m. incident in the 22000 block of Hilton Head Drive, Detective Ed Nordskog of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Unit.
Bomb squad officials examined the immediate area and examined the device, which resembled a pipe bomb, after it was discovered in Ladd’s closet, Nordskog said.
“It was real except there was (no explosives) in it,” Nordskog said.
The 8-inch long steel pipe was fitted with end caps and a fuse system, he added.
Deputies had responded to a report of a family dispute and discovered Ladd had a no-bail warrant for his arrest prior to finding the suspicious device, Lt. John Saleeby of the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station said. The initial call was not related to the suspicious device.
“(Ladd) told us it was a movie prop,” Nordskog said. “He’s not in the movie business. There’s no legitimate reason to have something like that.”
According to county booking records, Ladd was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in Pomona Superior Court.

Man pepper-sprayed, robbed, struck with car in La Mirada

LA MIRADA — Deputies are seeking a woman and man who pepper-sprayed and robbed a man in his apartment, then struck him with their car as he chased after them late Wednesday.
The victim, a 23-year-old man, had invited a female friend he knew only as “Audri” over for a visit to his home in the 15000 block of Leffingwell Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Craig Harmon said. She was described as white and between 23 and 25 years old.
While in the apartment about 11:30 p.m., the woman sprayed the man with pepper spray, snatched about $300 that was inside the apartment and fled, the sergeant said.
The woman got into a dark blue, four-door car with paper license plated, Harmon said. It was being driven by a white man between 23 and 27 years old.
The victim chased after the robbers, who sideswiped him with their car as they fled, Harmon said. He was treated for minor injuries.
The robbers had not been found Thursday.

Whittier police crack down on motorcycle safety

WHITTIER — Police will be out in force this month and next during a special motorcycle safety enforcement campaign, officials said.
Extra officers will be on patrol in areas frequented by motorcyclists keeping an eye out for dangerous riders and careless motorists who jeopardize their safety, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by regular vehicle drivers as well as motorcyclists that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities,” the statement said.
Since 2008, Whittier has seen 94 crashes involving motorcycles, resulting in 85 injuries and two deaths, officials said.
“California collision data reveals that primary causes of motorcycle-involved crashes include speeding, unsafe turning and impairment due to alcohol and other drugs,” according to the police statement. “The Whittier Police Department is also reminding all motorists to always be alert and watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.”
Riders can receive training through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. For more information, call 877-743-3411, or visit www.CA-msp.org.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.