Police are on alert in Alhambra, where 11 robberies and attempted robberies have been reported in just over a month.
The seemingly unrelated crimes, which have occurred since Jan. 2, varied greatly in type and involved a wide range of suspect descriptions, according to Alhambra police officials. Suspects have been arrested in connection with three of the crimes, and police said they had solid leads to follow on others.
“The robberies ranged from armed with a weapon (to) attempts, strong-arm, purse snatches, commercial and a carjacking,” police officials said in a written statement.
“The majority of the robberies have occurred in the southeast portion of the city,” according to the statement. “The suspects targeted victims on or near the main thoroughfares of the city, i.e., Atlantic Boulevard, Commonwealth Avenue, Garfield (Avenue), Main Street and Valley Boulevard.”
*The most recent incident Wednesday morning began as an attempted scam at a Khol’s store, 1201 S. Fremont Ave., but turned into a robbery when the suspect fought with a security guard who tried to sop him, Alhambra police Sgt. Brandon Black said.
Richard Raul Hurtado, 41, of Montebello, is accused of taking about $125 worth of merchandise from the store, then getting cash for it by presenting the items as returns in another part of the store, according to police and county booking records. A security guard tried to stop Hurtado, who initially cooperated, but then fought the security guard and fled. The security guard was not seriously injured.
A police dog led officers to Hurtado, who was found hiding across the street inside a car that had been left unlocked, Black said.
In addition to robbery and commercial burglary, Black said Hurtado was also accused of vandalism for causing about $600 worth of damage to the car as he allegedly tried to pry the rear seat down in an effort to climb into the trunk.
According to county booking records, he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
*A gunman Monday robbed both cash and cell phones from a wireless store just before 3 p.m. Monday, Black said. He brandished a silver, semi-automatic handgun as he robbed the business of iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones and money.
Police described the robber as a black man in his 20s, between 6 feet and 6 feet 3 inches tall, 180 to 190 pounds, wearing a black sweat shirt, black pants and some sort of white mask over his face. He fled in a silver, 4-door car with a waiting driver.
*Alhambra police arrested a 25-year-old woman the afternoon of Jan. 29 after she allegedly attacked Target store employees who confronted her while she was stealing iPads from the store, 2120 West Main Street, Black said.
Arielle Streber, whose city of residence was not available, had already exited the store with five iPads and returned and grabbed five more when store employees stopped her, the sergeant said. She struck the employees and fled, but was captured by police nearby. The car she had arrived on was determined to have been stolen, and she was found with a small amount of drugs.
Streber was booked on suspicion of robbery, though she was ultimately charged with two counts of burglary, one count of battery, one count of auto theft and one count of drug possession.
Streber was being held in lieu of $320,000 bail pending the trial process, records show.
*Local transient Jose Luis Lizarraga, 24, was jailed shortly after 8 p.m. Jan. 27 on suspicion of attempted robbery after threatening to hit a man and woman with a skateboard after they refused to hand over spare change in the area of Main and First streets , Black said.
According to booking records, Lizarraga was being held in lieu of $160,000 bail pending his next court appearance.
*A woman was allegedly robbed late Jan. 24th by a family members, officials said. His identity was known to investigators, however he remained at-large.
*A shotgun-wielding would-be robber approached a man and woman about 2:40 a.m. Jan 22. as they sat in a car pulled along the side of the 1200 block of South Garfield Avenue, Black said.
The man and woman had just pulled over when a 2009 to 2011 Toyota Tundra pickup truck with tinted windows pulled up behind them, the sergeant said. A robber got out of the passenger side of the truck, approached the car and tapped the windows with the barrel of a shotgun, Black said.
The young man driving the car threw the vehicle into reverse and rammed the pickup truck before speeding away, Black said. The gunman was described as an Asian man in his mid-30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 130 pounds, with short black hair and a mustache. He wore a white T-shirt and blue jeans. No description of the driver was available.
*A man lost his Honda Civic to two carjackers just before 11 p.m. Jan. 17 at Lemon Street and Marengo Avenue, Alhambra police Lt. Garrett Kennedy said. But the car was found abandoned in El Sereno later that night.
Officials described the carjackers, who were armed with a handgun, only as two men. One wore a hooded sweat shirt, while the other wore a white baseball cap, Kennedy said. A black Ford Thunderbird may have been used as a getaway car.
*A robber snatched a young woman’s purse from her lap and fled about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at Valley Boulevard and Market Lane, police said. The robber was a black man in his 20s, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, of medium build, clean-shaven, wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans. He was last seen leaving the area in a dark-colored, four-door sedan.
*Another woman lost her purse in a robbery about 3:15 p.m. Jan. 11 in the 1000 block of East Norwood Place, Black said.
A robber pulled the woman’s purse from her shoulder before fleeing in a black, 4-door Toyota Camry or Corolla with paper license plates bearing the phrase, “Super Ford,” he said. The robber was a white or Latino man in his early 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 190 to 200 pounds, wearing jeans, a cap and a checkered shirt.
*A crook stole items from a man about 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 during a strong-arm robbery at Atlantic and Valley boulevards, Black said. The robber pushed the man against his wall before stealing property from him. It was not clear what was stolen in the crime.
Police described the robber as male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, of skinny build, wearing a black hooded sweat shirts and black shorts. He was with an accomplice, however a description of the second robber was not available, and both robbers fled the area in a black car fitted with aftermarket rims.
*A robber tried to take a woman’s purse, but was thwarted by her 13-year-old son, about 2 p.m. Jan. 2 at a bus stop at Valley Boulevard and Marengo Avenue, Black said. The robber came up behind the woman and grabbed her purse, pulling her to the ground before running off with her handbag.
The woman’s 13-year-old son chased after the robber and managed to take his mother’s purse back, Black said. The boy was struck in the head during the scuffle, but appeared to be unharmed.
The failed robber escaped empty-handed. He was described as a Latino man in his 20s with short black hair and a medium build, wearing a black shirt and black pants. He was seen driving a yellow van.
The nine robberies reported in Alhambra in January follow eight reported robberies in the city in January of 2012, according to Alhambra police statistics. In January of 2011, three robberies were reported.
With no link tying the crimes together, police advised residents to use common sense tactics and a little extra vigilance to help reduce their chanced of becoming victims of crimes.
Always be aware of your surroundings and people around you. Keep your property close to you. If you see anything or anyone suspicious contact the police.
“Take the extra couple seconds to keep your wits about you and secure your stuff,” Black said. “Make sure cars are locked. Don’t have valuable in plain view.”
When possible, find “strength in numbers,” he added. “Try to walk in a group.”
Black added women who carry purses can reduce their risk of theft by carrying them in front of their bodies, rather than behind, making them harder for opportunistic thieves to snatch.
“We ‘re very responsive to calls from the community,” Black said. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Call us. We’ll check it out.”