‘Quad Bandit’ sought for bank robberies in Los Angeles, Orange counties

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The FBI is seeking a serial bank robbery they’ve dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” whose robbed or attempted to rob nine banks in Orange and Los Angeles counties since April, officials said Friday.
The bandit earned his moniker at the outset of his spree when he struck four Buena Park banks on March 22, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. Three of the crimes at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase branches failed, while one at a Chase bank was successful.
The robber then showed up in Cerritos March 16, where he tried unsuccessfully to rob a Wells Fargo before successfully robbing a Chase bank later the same day, officials said.
The Quad Bandit robbed a La Habra U.S. Bank branch July 3, followed by an Opus Bank branch in Anaheim on July 15 and a Union Bank branch in Anaheim Hills on Wednesday.
“During the robberies, the suspect known as the Quad Bandit typically passes a note and makes a verbal demand for cash,” Eimilller said. “In some of the robberies, the Quad Bandit has threatened a weapon, or has appeared to have gestured toward what might be a weapon, according to victims.”
0726_NWS_WDN-L-WUADBANDIT2In a bank surveillance photo released by the FBI from a Buena Park crime, the bandit is seen holding up a piece of paper toward the teller’s window with the words, “bank robbery,” written on it.
The FBI described the bandit as white, 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 to 160 grounds. he had dirty blond hair, a goatee and stubble during the crimes, during which he wore sunglasses and baseball caps.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.

PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

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Chino man convicted of follow-home robbery spree targeting women in the western San Gabriel Valley

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ALHAMBRA >> A Chino man is expected to face more than two-and-a-half centuries in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of a string of robberies targeting women arriving home throughout the western San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
An Alhambra Superior Court jury found Jose Lewis Avila, 32, guilty of all counts he was charged with, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
They included nine counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of dissuading a witness and one count of child abuse, Ardalani said. The jury also found true the special allegations that Avila used a dangerous weapon during the crimes, which was ultimately determined to be a BB gun following Avila’s arrest, and that one of his victims, an Arcadia woman was shot with the BB gun, suffered great bodily injury. An Alhambra woman was pistol whipped during one of the robberies.
The robbery spree took place in March and April of 2011 in Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park and Arcadia, Ayvazian said.
“All of these are basically follow home robberies,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Gabriel Kim.
He targeted women outside their homes as they arrived home alone, investigators said. In the first robbery in Alhambra, a husband and wife were robbed as they arrived home together.
All of the victims targeted by Avila were Asian, Ayvazian said.
Avila was ordered back to court Sept. 26 for sentencing, Ardalani said.
Prior to receiving his sentenced, a judge will review Avila’s criminal history to confirm his status ass a third-strike offender, Ayvazian said.
He’s expected to receive a minimum sentence of 250 years to life in state prison, officials said. The maximum sentence Avila faces is 259 years behind bars.
The 12 charges stemmed from eight incidents, the prosecutor explained. Three robberies, one which involved two victims, occurred in Alhambra. Another three took place in San Gabriel, while one occurred in Arcadia and one took place in Monterey Park.
One of his victims was holding a child in her arms when robbed, resulting in the child abuse charge, officials said.
Avila threatened another of his victims and told her not to contact the police, resulting in a charge of dissuading a witness, Ayvazian said.
The assault with a deadly weapon charge stemmed from the Arcadia robbery, Ayvazian said. When the victim’s daughter overheard the commotion and came out so check on her mother, Avila shot her with the BB gun.
0724_NWS_PSN-L-AVILA2As the spree was ongoing, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park police banded together and formed a task force to identify and capture the serial robber.
He was arrested April 20, 2011, after an officer spotted a man and vehicle matching the suspect description driving on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and stopped it for a broken tail light, Ayvazian said. After learning the driver, later identified as Avila, was on parole, officers searched his car.
Investigators found a realistic-looking BB gun, bandanas, latex gloves and other items that indicated he was searching for new victims when stopped by police, Ayvazian said. A wealth of evidence including eyewitness statement, credit card records, cell phone records and surveillance camera footage also linked Avila to the crimes, officials said.
Additionally, even though Avila covered his face during his crimes, several witness were able to identify him due to his “very unique” eyes and eyebrows, Ayvazian said.
At the time of his arrest, Avila was already on parole in connection with a similar robbery spree that took place in the same area in 2005, Ayvazian said.
He had been arrested and charged with 19 criminal counts, but ultimately admitted two of the robberies under a plea agreement, the prosecutor said. As in the more recent case, some victims identified the masked robber based on his eyes and eyebrows.
While Avila was charged with robbing nine people in the 2011 spree, the police task force assembled to investigate the case capture the serial robber had also looked at Avila in connection with more than ten additional robberies, reaching into Pasadena and South Pasadena, officials said shortly after Avila’s arrest. No charges have been filed in connection with those robberies.
The prosecution presented 22 witness during Avila’s three-and-a-half-day trial, Ayvazian said.
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours before finding Avila guilty an all charges.
“The evidence was on out side,” Ayvazian said. “The jury obviously, in our opinion, did the right thing by bringing justice for our community.

PHOTOS:(Above)  Photo of Jose Avila courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department. (Below) Sketch of serial robber released to the public prior to Avila’s arrest in connection with a follow-home robbery spree continued in the western San Gabriel Valley in April of 2011, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Jewelry dealers robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewels on Pasadena freeway offramp

PASADENA — Two men escaped with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry late Thursday after robbing a pair of jewelry dealers on a freeway offramp in Pasadena, police said.
The heist took place about 9:50 p.m. on the Fair Oaks Avenue offramp of the eastbound 210 Freeway, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Two men from out of state who own a jewelry business were visiting town when a car stopped in front of them, Luna said.
The two robbers exited their car and confronted the victims, who were 35 and 45 years old, he said.
“They threatened harm if the victims did not comply with their demands,” Luna said. The robbers ordered the victims to open the trunk of their car.
Luna said the robbers grabbed jewelry valued at “several hundred-thousand dollars,” from the victims’ trunk before fleeing. The jewelry dealers were not injured, and no weapons were seen during the crime.
Police described the robbers only as two male suspects wearing dark clothing. They were driving a white sedan, possibly of German manufacture.
The victims did not recognize the robbers, Luna said. It was not clear how the robbers knew of the victims’ precious cargo.
“They were obviously targeted,” Luna said.

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Man uses knife to rob Pasadena liquor store, flees on skateboard

PASADENA — A man with a skateboard used a large knife to rob a Pasadena liquor store Thursday, police said.
The crime took place just before 11 a.m. when the robber entered Pat’s Liquors, 1072 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“He walked into the liquor store, produced a knife (and) told a clerk that he wanted all the money from the cash register,” Clawson said. The man working at the store turned over a “small amount” of money.
Police said the robber was last seen on a skateboard heading south on Catalina Avenue. He was described a white or Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing a gray T-shirt and black shorts.

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UPDATED: Women robbed in West Covina home invasion

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WEST COVINA — Police are seeking two gunmen who forced their way into the home of a West Covina woman and her elderly mother Sunday, assaulting one of the women before fleeing with valuables, authorities said.
The home-invasion robbery took place just after 10 a.m. today at a house in the 3000 block of Larkwood Street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A woman estimated to be in her 50s and her mother, estimated to be in her 70s, were inside the home when the two armed robbers entered through the open door of an attached garage, police said.
“(The women) were confronted by the suspects, who were armed with handguns,” Patton said. The robbers ordered the women into a bedroom.
The daughter was bleeding from a head injury when officers arrived, he said. She had been struck by one of the robbers with a blunt object, though it was not clear if she had been pistol-whipped or struck with some other unknown object.
Both women were examined at the scene by paramedics, but not hospitalized, police said.
Police said the robbers fled with cash, jewelry and electronics. A safe was stolen during the crime.
The value of the items stolen in the robbery was not available.
Patton said the robbers were described as two black men, both wearing jeans and dark-colored T-shirts and armed with semi-automatic handguns. One of the robbers appeared 20 25 years old, while the other was described as appearing to be about 30.
They were last seen fleeing the area in a light-colored vehicle similar to a 2010 or newer-model model Chevrolet Camaro, Patton said.
A woman who answered the door at the home did not wish to comment, though she confirmed everyone was OK.
A neighbor who was home at the time of the crime said he did not hear or see anything unusual.
Patton said police were checking with other law enforcement agencies in the region to see if any similar crimes have been reported lately.
Anyone with information was asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8500.

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Suspect jailed following Alhambra sandwich shop robbery

ALHAMBRA — Police arrested a man Saturday after he robbed a sandwich shop at gunpoint, authorities said.
Jacob Adan Perez, 19, of Alhambra was arrested in connection with the robbery, which took place just before 1 a.m. at Subway, 2131 South Fremont Avenue, according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Perez entered the restaurant with a handgun and demanded money, Alhambra police Sgt. Esther Rodriguez said. After obtaining cash, he ran off.
A responding police officer spotted the suspect — later identified as Perez — in the area, Rodriguez said. Police set up a search perimeter, in which Perez was found and arrested without a struggle a short time later.
Police recovered the handgun believed to have been used in the robbery, as well as other items possibly linking Perez to additional crimes, Rodriguez said.
Officials declined to described the items seized from Perez Saturday as they continued their investigation, she added.
Perez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Man beaten during Whittier robbery

WHITTIER — A group of men attacked and robbed another man Tuesday evening along Pickering Avenue in Whittier, police said.
The crime took place about 7 p.m. at Pickering Avenue and Pacific Place, but was not reported until about half an hour later when the victim arrived home and called police, Whittier Police Lt. Steve Dean said.
The victim was walking when he passed by a group of men who were drinking in some bushes, the lieutenant said. The called out to him to come over as he passed, but he ignored them.
Three of the four suspects ran over to the victim, a 23-year-old Whittier man, and began beating him with their fists, Dean said. The fourth suspect apparently acted as a lookout.
While the victim was on the ground, the attackers grabbed his wallet from his pocket, emptied it of cash and dropped the rest on the ground.
The attackers fled when the lookout announced it was , “Time to go,” Dean said.
The victim declined to be taken to a hospital for treatment, he added.
Police described all four suspects as Latino men. The three attackers were about 5 feet 6 inches tall and of thin build. Two of them were in their mid-20s, while the third was in his late-teens.
A detailed description of the fourth suspect was not available.

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Girls’ softball team apprehends robbery suspect in Covina

COVINA — A man tried to steal a folder containing the personal information of a girls’ softball team as members gathered at a pizza parlor Friday before being chased down and captured by an outraged group of players and parents, police said.
Police arrested Marvin Duenas, 29, of Covina on suspicion of robbery, as well as an outstanding vandalism warrant out of Van Nuys, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
The alleged crime took place about 8:20 p.m. at a pizzeria in the 900 block of North Citrus Avenue, the lieutenant said.
Eleven- and 12-year-old members of the Covina National Little League Softball girls’ all-star team, along with parents and coaches, were meeting at the restaurant ahead of a scheduled game Saturday against Baldwin Park Eastside Little League, police said.
The coach had with him a folder containing personal information of players, such as birth certificates, utility bills and tax forms which the league uses to verify players’ eligibility, Doonan said.
The lieutenant described the folder as a “gold mine” for someone seeking to carry out identity theft. The documents were also necessary for the team to be allowed to play their game.
After looking down an realizing the folder was gone from the table, Doonan said another patron of the restaurant told him that a man had just snatched the folder and walked out the door with it.
The group went outside and spotted the man, as well as a woman, entering a nearby gas station, Doonan said.
During a brief confrontation at the gas station, he said, Duenas shoved a 12-year-old girl, as well as one of the parents accompanying the group.
The group demanded the folder back, and Duenas returned it after pulling it from a backpack he was carrying, police said. The suspect then tried to run, but the group held onto him until police arrived.
Police detained the woman Duenas was with, but released her later in the evening after determining she did not appear to have been involved in the theft.
Duenas was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Jaywalking stop leads to arrest of attempted robbery suspect in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS — A deputy stopped an Upland man for jaywalking in San Dimas early Thursday and soon discovered he had just attempted to rob a nearby coffee shop, authorities said.
The deputy encountered Dean Andrew Perez, 19, about 6:30 a.m. as he was illegally crossing the street near Bonita and San Dimas avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said.
After determining Perez appeared to be under the influence of drugs, the deputy began making an arrest, the lieutenant said.
The deputy found a replica handgun in the Perez’s waistband as he patted him down and noticed he was wearing a handkerchief tied around his neck, Vega said.
Deputies soon discovered Perez had just tried unsuccessfully to rob a Starbucks coffee shop on Bonita Avenue, just west of San Dimas Avenue, officials said.
He had entered the store and just begun to pull the fake gun from his waistband when a customer walked in, apparently starling him, Vega said Perez fled empty-handed moments before being stopped by the deputy for jaywalking.
Perez was booked on suspicion of attempted robbery and being under the influence of drugs, Vega said.
According to county booking records, he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Monday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Suspect sought in failed La Habra tobacco shop robbery

LA HABRA — Police searched a La Habra neighborhood Thursday after a botched tobacco shop robbery, authorities said.
The suspect ultimately eluded capture following the incident, which began about 6 p.m. with an attempted robbery at a tobacco store on Whittier Boulevard, just east of Hacienda Road, La Habra police Sgt. Mel Ruiz said.
The would-be robber entered the store and demanded property from the clerk, the sergeant said. He claimed to have a knife.
The clerk refused and confronted the robber, Ruiz said. The crook reached for the cash resister as the two briefly struggled.
The robber abandoned the crime and ran from the store, dropping a box cutter-style knife as he fled, officials said. The clerk declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police spotted a man matching the description of the failed robber about 6:40 p.m. in the area of Beach and La Habra Boulevards, Ruiz said. He ran south through a residential neighborhood as officers approached.
Officers set up a search perimeter in the area of Beach Boulevard and Lambert Road, where they last spotted the fleeing suspect, Ruiz said.
They searched yard-to-yard with the help of two police dogs and an Orange County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter, but came up empty-handed, he said.
Police described the robber as a Latino man of about 20 years old, about 5 feet 3 inches tall, of thin build, with a shaved head. He wore a black shirt with white lettering, blue jeans and leather boots.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the La Habra Police Department.

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