UPDATE: South Pasadena man sets trap for burglar

SOUTH PASADENA – For the past two weeks, David Booth would come home and notice one or two wine bottles missing from his wine rack.

His grown children denied taking the wine. He changed the lock on the rack and still the bottles kept disappearing.

Five to six breaks-ins later where only wine was stolen, Booth decided to set a trap Friday which led to the arrest of the suspected burglar.

The 48-year-old Booth took the day off, parked his car about a block away and went back to his duplex in the 1800 block of Wayne Avenue. He closed the curtains and waited in a bedroom with his camera and a cell phone at the ready. He was careful not to make a sound. No TV either.

“I thought he’d come in through the kitchen window,” Booth said.

About 12:30 p.m., there was a noise and a man trying to force open the window of the bedroom Booth was in.

“He snapped the window hard. He sort of popped it open. I snapped a couple of pictures,” Booth said.

The man tried to reach for and grab the camera then told Booth he was going to call the police on him.

“What? You are going call the police on me?,” Booth told the intruder.

He then uttered a couple of expletives at the man and called the police. The culprit fled.

South Pasadena police Sgt. Tony Abdalla said within minutes, responding officers spotted the man pictured in Booth’s photograph and detained him about a block away.

Joshua Rivera, 27, of South Pasadena was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

“Generally, we do not recommend people confronting burglars because they are known to carry weapons, but in this case, nobody was hurt and the burglar was caught,” Abdalla said. “That’s a happy ending in my book.”

Rivera, who lives in the neighborhood where the burglaries occurred, was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, officials said.

Alcohol was the only thing taken during the burglaries. It was mostly wine plus a bottle of Bacardi which was in a kitchen cabinet. The burglar bypassed Booth’s watches and laptop.

“I was going crazy. I even asked my kids, ‘Are you taking my wine?’,” Booth said.

He came up with a plan. Take a picture of the burglar, get out of the place and call the police.

“I had the morning free. It worked out fine,” Booth said.

- Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day

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Rowland Heights doctor charged with three counts of murder appears in court

A Rowland Heights doctor accused of murdering three young men through abuse of her prescription pad pleaded not guilty Friday.
Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, 42, of Walnut entered her plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, court officials said. She was ordered to appear in court again Oct. 11 for a pre-trial hearing.
She’s accused of second degree murder in connection with the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, who died March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, who died April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, of San Ramon, who died Dec. 18, 2009.
Through a Rowland Heights medical clinic she operated with her husband, Advanced Care AAA Medical, Tseng is accused of supplying the young men with powerful medications such as oxycodone, methadone and xanax, without a valid medical reason.
Though she’s charged with three deaths, testimony heard at her preliminary hearing in June indicated that 12 of her patients have died from drug overdoses. She has settled in civil court with families of five of the young men.
If convicted as charged, Tseng could face a sentence of 45 years to life in state prison.
According to county booking records, Tseng remained jailed in lieu of $3 million at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood pending trial.
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Officials: burglars targeting elderly residents of Walnut, Diamond Bar

Officials Friday cautioned elderly San Gabriel Valley residents of an apparent crew of crooks targeting senior citizens in residential burglaries by posing as city or utility workers this week.
Three such crimes have been reported in Walnut and Diamond Bar since Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The criminal appeared to be targeting, “unsuspecting elderly homeowners,” according to the statement. All three victims this week were over the age of 70.
To combat the problem, sheriff’s Lt. Steve Katz advised residents, particularly the elderly, to be cautious when it comes to strangers knocking at the door.
“If it doesn’t seem right, then give us a call,” the lieutenant said.
If a resident has any concerns regarding a person at their door, Katz said it’s a good idea to keep the door locked until deputies arrive to verify the person’s identity.
The break-ins took place Wednesday in the 600 block of Junewood Place in Diamond Bar and the 400 block of Vista Rambla in Walnut, as well as Thursday in the 600 block of Looking Glass Drive in Diamond Bar, officials said.
In the Junewood Place incident, three men knocked on a man’s door and told him they were sub-contractors hired by the city to do some work, officials said. They all wore green shirts with a tree logo on the front.
One of the men kept the homeowner occupied near the property line while the other two entered the home through an unlocked garage door, officials said. But the three fled empty-handed after being confronted in the home by the elderly resident’s son.
Also Wednesday, a similar incident took place in the 400 block of Vista Rambla in Walnut, according to sheriff’s investigators.
In that incident, according to the statement, three men claiming to be city workers knocked at the man’s door and began talking to him about nearby power lines and future construction.
While talking with one of the men in his backyard, the victim noticed the other two men leaving his house and getting into white, 4-door vehicle, authorities said. The following day, the resident noticed that watches and jewelry was missing from his home.
A woman in the 600 block of Looking Glass Drive in Diamond Bar also became a victim of burglary Thursday after a similar con.
A man showed up at her front door and told her that her home’s water was contaminated, the sheriff’s statement said. The woman allowed the man to her kitchen faucet, where the intruder asked her to watch the water until its color changed.
The woman soon spotted the man leaving her home and getting into a dark blue sedan being driven by a second man, officials said. Her bedroom had been ransacked and jewelry stolen.
The burglars have been described so far only as three Latino men between 35 and 40 years old.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 909-595-2264.
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FBI seeks “Don’t Even Bandit” for bank robberies in SGV, Inland Empire

62466-DONT EVEN BANIT alhambra-thumb-300x296-62465.jpg
A Thursday bank heist in Rosemead was the work of a serial bandit linked to at least five bank robberies and attempted robberies throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, officials said Friday.
In addition to the robbery at a Bank of the West branch in Rosemead Thursday, the “Don’t Even Bandit” is also sought in connection with four other bank robberies in Alhambra, Covina, Fontana and Ontario dating back to Aug. 27, FBI officials said in a written statement.
The other crimes linked to the bandit include: a Sept. 17 robbery at a One West branch, 144 N. 2nd Street in Covina; a Sept. 8 robbery at a Bank of the West branch, 855 W. Valley Blvd. in Alhambra; a failed Sept. 7 robbery at a Citibank branch, 8401 Sierra Boulevard in Fontana; and an Aug. 27 robbery at a Bank of America branch, 735 N. Euclid Ave. in Ontario, according to the FBI.
“He got his name based on witnesses describing that his verbal demands included the threatening language, “don’t even,” FBI spokeswoman Ari DeKofsky said.
In all five crimes, the bandit’s tactics were similar, she added.
In addition to verbally demanding cash, the robber passes a teller a note, DeKofsky said. “They’re very short, basically just indicating it is a robbery.”
No weapon has been seen during the crimes, however because of the violent nature of bank robbery, DeKofsky said the suspect is considered “armed and dangerous.”
The Don’t Even Bandit is described as a black man between 30 and 35 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall and 150 to 170 pounds, officials said. He was seen wearing baseball caps in all five crimes.
In the most recent robbery in Rosemead, he was seen fleeing the area in a black Nissan Versa, possibly a 2010 model, with no tinting on the windows and a California license plate, officials said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 888-226-8443, or a local law enforcement agency.
SURVEILLANCE PHOTO courtesy of the FBI
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Miramonte teacher from Alhambra to face child molestation trial

A judge ruled Thursday that there was enough evidence for the charges to stand against a Miramonte Elementary School teacher and Alhambra resident accused of molesting a student.

Martin Springer, 50, was held to answer to three counts of lewd acts on a child after his Thursday preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court.

Deputy District Attorney Darci Lanphere said Springer’s next court appearance is Oct. 11 for an arraignment.

Springer was arrested Feb. 3 after two girls came forward and alleged he touched them inappropriately in the classroom.

He was charged with committing lewd acts on one of the girls. Authorities said the alleged crimes happened April, May and June 2009 when the girl was about seven.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The allegations against Springer came out after the arrest of Mark Brendt, another Miramonte Elementary teacher.

Brendt is accused of sexually abusing more than 20 students.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Minnesota men suspected of botched robbery in La Habra

LA HABRA – An armed man tried to rob a driver and his passenger at a bank ATM Wednesday night but didn’t get a cent when his intended victims drove away.


La Habra police Lt. Jeff Swaim said the victims also provided police with a description of the robber and his getaway car. An officer later found the car and arrested the two occupants.

Swaim said a cap gun was also located in the suspects’ car.

The attempted robbery occurred 9:54 p.m. at SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, 1701 W. Imperial Highway.

Swaim said the victims had finished their ATM transaction when a man walked up to the car, pointed a gun and demanded money.

“They drove off,” he said.

Swaim said an officer found the suspect’s car, a 1987 Chevrolet, in the 1300 block of Beach Boulevard.

Darrel Twombly, 30, of Plymouth, Minn. was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, brandishing a weapon, possession of narcotic paraphernalia and for outstanding warrants.

Christina Doty, 29, of Hopkins, Minn. was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, conspiracy and possession of narcotic paraphernalia.

Both are housed at the Intake Release Center in Santa Ana. Twombly is being held without bail while Doty has a $50,000 bail.

They are scheduled for an arraignment today at Central Jail Court in Santa Ana.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Good Samaritan robbed and carjacked in Monrovia

MONROVIA — Police Friday continued seeking two men who carjacked and robbed a good Samaritan at gunpoint after he agreed to jump start their pickup truck earlier this week, authorities said.
The crime occurred Tuesday in a residential neighborhood on 5th Avenue, between Chestnut and Walnut avenues, Monrovia Police Sgt. Nick Manfredi said.
The carjacked minivan was recovered Thursday in Monrovia, and police were examining it for clues, the sergeant said.
The victim, an Upland man in his mid-20s, was approached by two men in a pickup truck about 6:40 a.m., he said.
One of the men exited the pickup truck and asked if the victim would use his 2002 Dodge Caravan to jump-start their truck, according to Manfredi.
“Victim agreed and he drove up to the suspects’ vehicle,” he said. “That’s when one of the suspect produced a small-caliber handgun and demanded the victims money.”
The victim turned over his money, and the robber then jumped into the minivan and sped away, Manfredi. The pickup truck also fled the scene.
Officers Thursday found the minivan abandoned in the 300 block of West Olive Avenue and were processing it for evidence Friday before returning it to its owner, officials said.
Police described the gunman as a white man in his late-30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with shoulder-length blond hair. He wore blue jeans and a blue T-shirt.
The driver of the pickup truck involved in the robbery and carjacking was described only as male. The truck was a small, white, late-80s-model pickup.
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Man found dead in La Puente motel; no crime initially suspected

LA PUENTE – The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner is investigating the death of a man whose body was found at a local motel on Thursday.

Lt. Ray Enriquez of the sheriff’s Industry Station said deputies were called at 1:30 p.m. to the Budget Inn at 15412 Francisquito Ave.

The dead man was identified Friday as Ismael Gonzales, 56, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.

An autopsy was planned to determined Gonzalez’s cause of death, Winter said, however there were not outward signs of trauma on the body and the death was initially reported to investigators as possibly natural.

There were no further details.

- Staff report

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Missing West Covina woman found dead in car

WEST COVINA – A missing 21-year-old West Covina woman was found dead in her car which was parked in a residential area Thursday.

Authorities didn’t know how long the sedan had been parked at Calico Drive and Donnabeth Avenue until it was discovered at 12:57 p.m. by relatives of the woman who were looking for her.

The woman was identified by coroner’s officials Friday as Rani Christine Kimes, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter. 

Lt. Jerry Pearman said there were no marks on the woman’s body and the cause of death isn’t known yet.

He said nobody in the neighborhood had seen the woman in the car.

The woman was last seen Tuesday morning by her family when she left to get some fresh air, Pearman said.

The missing woman lived near the area where she was found, he added.

- Staff report

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Man robs Rosemead bank

ROSEMEAD – A man in a gray sweater used a note demanding money to rob a bank of an undisclosed amount Thursday.

Lt. Ignacio Samoano of the sheriff’s Temple station said the suspect entered the Bank of the West at 9000 Valley Blvd. in Rosemead just after noon and placed a demand note before a teller.

The teller handed over money. Samoano said no weapon was seen on the suspect.

The robber left in a 4-door black compact vehicle or 4-door black mid-sized vehicle.

He was described as a black man, 20 to 25, 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds. In addition to the sweater, he wore a black baseball cap.

- Ruby Gonzales

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