MONTEBELLO >> A car thief stole a minivan with a 1-year-old boy inside of it from a Montebello recycling center Thursday afternoon before being found unharmed, along with the abandoned vehicle, four hours later in Pico Rivera, authorities said.
The theft and possibly unintentional kidnapping took place about 3 p.m. at S.A. Recycling, 1545 Gage Road, Montebello police officials said.
One-year-old Caleb Castro, who was passenger in the red 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan when it was stolen, was found safe inside the minivan nearly four hours later after it was abandoned outside a Pico Rivera McDonalds restaurant, according to police.”
“The child was found inside (the minivan) safe and unharmed and is at a local hospital being looked at,” police said in a written statement.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert following the initial carjacking, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman.
“The suspect approached the parked vehicle, while three children sat in the car. Their mother stepped away approximately 10 feet and was going to recycle some items,” according to a police statement.
“The suspect approached the vehicle, ordered two girls — 6- and 4-year-olds out of the car,” the statement continued. But the woman’s 1-year-old son remained in the minivan.
The thief drove off in the minivan, which had the keys still in the ignition, police said.
“The mother screamed that her baby was in the car, however the suspect fled with the vehicle out of the parking lot and southbound on Gage Road,” according to the statement.
A witness who had seen the Amber Alert spotted the stolen minivan shortly before 7 p.m. in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant, 9333 W. Slauson Ave. in Pico Rivera, officials said.
The carjacker remained at large, officials said. He was described as a Latino man, about 30 years, with spiked hair. He spoke Spanish.
Suspect photo courtesy of the Montebello Police Department
MONTEREY PARK >> An unidentified man in a white pickup truck tried to kidnap a teenage girl as she walked to school in Monterey Park early Thursday, police said.
The failed abduction took place about 7:10 a.m. as the victim, 16, was walking in the 600 block of North Orange Avenue, Monterey Park police Sgt. Rick Munder said in a written statement.
The suspect pulled his pickup truck into a parking lot, blocking the girl’s path on the sidewalk, police said. He began engaging the girl in conversation.
“When the victim attempted to walk away, the suspect exited the vehicle and grabbed the victim from behind and attempted to force her into his vehicle,” Munder said. “The victim screamed and was released. The suspect got back into the vehicle and fled southbound on Orange Avenue. The victim was shaken but unharmed.”
Police described the suspect as a Latino man between 20 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of thin build and unshaven. He spoke with a Spanish accent, had black hair shaved short and wore a black long-sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans.
His truck was described as a white, early- to mid-2000s-model Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon with a single cab, a black bed liner, tinted windows and oversized rims with five spokes each. Investigators released a surveillance camera image of the truck in hopes of generating clues.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Monterey Park police at 626-573-31311.
PHOTO of suspect vehicle courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.
WHITTIER >> Police are seeking a Whittier woman they say fled with her 1-year-old son as child services workers tried to serve an order to remove the child from her custody Thursday morning, officials said.
The boy was found safe at a relatives home Thursday night, however the mother remained at large, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Martha Martinez, 26, fled from the 12800 block of Foxley Drive with her 1-year-old son about 9:45 a.m. as officials from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services arrived to serve a removal order, police officials said in a written statement.
“During the contact, the mother fled the location on foot with the child,” according to the police statement.
Officers searched the area for hours, with help from a bloodhound, but did not find the mother and child.
After reaching out to the public for help, the boy was found safe at a relative’s home Thursday night, Ellis said.
Martha Martinez is Latina, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 120 pounds, police said. She was last seen wearing a tank top, blue jeans and yellow boots.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9240.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena man kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and drove her around the city before police arrested him early Saturday morning, officials said.
Javier Vasquez, 21, was booked on suspicion of kidnapping and false imprisonment, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Police received a report about 2 a.m. of a distraught woman sitting on a curb in the 200 block of South Oak Knoll Avenue, he said.
“(She) tells us that her boyfriend forced her into his car against her will,” Mercado said. “He drove her around the city of Pasadena and wouldn’t let her get out.”
The woman tried to escape several times as the car slowed or stopped for traffic, the lieutenant said. “He would grab her by her wrist or hair.”
Vasquez ultimately released the woman on Oak Knoll Avenue and drove off, Mercado said. Police arrested him as a returned home later in the morning.
The victim, an Altadena resident, suffered no serious injuries.
According to county booking records, Vasquez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A gunman carjacked and kidnapped another man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Hacienda Heights convenience store Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime occurred about 3:40 p.m. outside a 7-Eleven store at Gale and Stimson avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.
A 25-year-old man was sitting in his brown, 2005 Chevy Silverado, Infante said. “The suspect produced a handgun and demanded a ride.”
The suspect entered the pickup truck and ordered the victim to drive, the lieutenant said. The gunman directed the victim to drive to the 800 block of North Hacienda Boulevard in La Puente, where he ordered the victim to get out. The carjacker then fled northbound in the victim’s truck.
A detailed suspect description was not available. Officials withheld the truck’s license plate number as they continued their investigation late Thursday.
PASADENA >> Three attackers kidnapped a woman in Pasadena, beat her unconscious and robbed her before dropping her off in Glendale Wednesday night, police said.
The victim, a 19-year-old Los Angeles woman, suffered “serious facial contusions” in the attack but was hospitalized in stable condition, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
She told investigators she had taken a Metro Gold Line train to Pasadena to sell the suspects a small amount of marijuana prior to the incident, which was reported to police about 11 p.m., police officials said.
The suspects, who she did not know by name, told her to meet them in the area of Fair Oaks Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard.
She got into the suspects’ newer-model, silver Honda Pilot, Luna said, Inside were two men and a woman. Detailed descriptions of the three suspects were not available.
“The victim heard what sounded like a gunshot and saw one of the windows shatter,” Luna said. The two men then began punching the woman in the face until she lost consciousness.
“She came to when the suspects dropped her off in the city of Glendale,” Luna said. The woman flagged down a passer-by, who drove her to a hospital.
The woman’s cell phone had been stolen, along with the marijuana, Lt. Vasken Gourdkian said.
PASADENA >> Police jailed a Whittier man on suspicion of kidnapping and carjacking a woman in Pasadena late Friday.
The strange crime took place shortly before 8 p.m. in the 400 block of South Lake Avenue as a 25-year-old Los Angeles woman was returning to her car after shopping in the area, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
A suspect ultimately identified as Andrew Sevillano, 27, of Whittier jumped into the passenger seat of the woman’s car and ordered her to drive, Carrillo said. He gave no destination where he wanted to go, but simply told the frightened woman to continue keep driving.
The car had reached Alhambra when the woman decided to jump out of the car and run, Carrillo said. Sevillano drove off in her car.
The woman sought help from a nearby resident, who called police on her behalf, the lieutenant said.
Officers found the car parked outside Pasadena High School about four hours later, Carrillo said. They found and arrested Sevillano at neighboring victory park.
Sevillano displayed no weapon during the crime, and his motives were unclear, he said.
Police were looking into the possibility that mental illness or intoxication may have played a role in the strange incident.
MONTEBELLO >> Police arrested a transient Wednesday they believe kidnapped and carjacked a 19-year-old Azusa woman at knifepoint the day before.
Police, aided by a K-9, found and arrested Omar Alfaro Juarez, 23, about 7:40 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Montebello Boulevard, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He’s accused of kidnapping, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a series of crimes, unfolding about 2 a.m. Tuesday at Bluff Road and Whittier Boulevard, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The woman had stopped her car in the area to rest and wait for a friend while driving home and fell asleep with car unlocked, police said.
“She was later awakened when she felt something on her neck and realized that a male was in her passenger seat holding a knife to her neck,” according to the statement.
Juarez allegedly forced the woman over to the passenger seat and drove her around for several hours, forcing her to remove $20 from an ATM at Beach Street and Greenwood Avenue, Montebello police Detective Alfred Martinez said, officials said.
The woman reported seeing a possible second suspect at the convenience store, though police were still seeking that man and trying to determine whether he was involved in the crime, Martinez said.
The woman was freed about six hours later when a parking enforcement officer called police to report what they thought to be domestic violence in the 1700 block of Bluff Road, Martinez said. Juarez fled when officers arrived and was not found.
Detectives later identified Juarez as the suspect and began surveillance in the area of Montebello Boulevard and Elm Street, where he was known to frequent. They spotted Juarez Wednesday afternoon.
“Juarez refused to surrender and was apprehended by K-9 Cody,” the police statement says. Vernon and Monterey Park police assisted in the arrest, along with a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.
The woman suffered a superficial cut to her neck, but no serious injuries, Martinez said.
Juarez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
PHOTO of suspect Omar Juarez courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
ARCADIA >> Police arrested the mother of a 3-year-old boy Sunday after the woman, who does not have custody of her son, allegedly abducted him from an Arcadia shopping mall.
Levi Barrios and his mother Melissa Barrios, 25, disappeared about 8:35 p.m. Saturday from the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia police Lt. Vaughn Whalen said in a written statement.
The boy’s great-aunt called police and reported Melissa Barrios, who is only authorized for visitation with her son, had absconded with him, Whalen said. The two were last seen at a bus stop at the mall.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies found the mother and child at union station in Los Angeles about 2:20 a.m., police said.
The boy was unharmed and Melissa Barrios was jailed on suspicion of kidnapping.
She was being held in lieu of $150,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.
PHOTO of Melissa Barrios courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man abducted his 4-year-old son during a supervised visit at a Santa Fe Springs social services office Thursday before police arrested him and recovered the boy about two hours later, officials said.
Francisco Rosas Espinoza, 42, is a Mexican national in the U.S. on a two-week visa to visit his son, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins.
He was visiting his son about 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services office in the 10300 block of Slusher Street when he left with his son, the officer said.
“We had officers and detectives scouring the area,” Scoggins said. A California Highway Patrol helicopter also joined in the search.
Officials spotted Espinoza and his son about 4:30 p.m. in the area of Pioneer Boulevard and Hamden Place, police said. He was trying to hide.
“There was a short standoff. He was holding on to the victim, refusing to let him go,” Scoggins said. “There was a brief struggle.”
Officers managed to wrestle the boy away from Espinoza and take the father into custody, he said. An officer was treated for a minor injury suffered in the confrontation, but neither the boy nor his father were hurt.
Espinoza was booked on suspicion of child abduction, child endangerment and resisting arrest, Scoggins said.
The boy was returned to the custody of DCFS.