LA HABRA >> A man claiming to be armed with a gun and pepper spray robbed a La Habra Vons supermarket Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The crime took place just before 3 p.m. at the market at the corner of Imperial Highway and Beach Boulevard, La Habra police Sgt. Jose Rocha said.
The robber approached an employee at the customer service counter and demanded money, the sergeant said. He claimed to have a gun and pepper spray, though neither were seen.
After obtaining an estimated $1,500, the robber ran from the store, he said. No getaway car was seen.
A detailed suspect description was not available.
ARCADIA >> A man who brandished a knife in an attempt to steal woman’s athletic shoes from an Arcadia department store Saturday found police officers waiting for him when he arrived home in El Monte, officials said.
Cuong Van Tran, 43, was booked on suspicion of robbery following the crime, reported about 4 p.m. at a JCPenney store at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Store security spotted Tran trying to steal Nike women’s athletic shoes and tried to detain him, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
“(Tran) brandished a knife. That’s when security stepped back,” the sergeant said. Tran dropped the shoes — valued at about $400 — and fled, but security officers were able to take down the license plate number of his car.
Arcadia and El Monte officers headed to a home in the 3000 block of Sastre Avenue in El Monte that was listed in the vehicle’s registration, Bonomo said.
“The car actually showed up while we were down there,” he said. Officers arrested Tran without a struggle.
According to county booking records, Tran was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
PASADENA >> A 70-year-old woman fought off two robbers who attacked her at her at her Pasadena home Friday, officials said.
The home-invasion robbery took place about 10:35 a,m. in the 2700 block of East Orange Grove Boulevard, according to Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo.
The woman noticed an older-model, dark green or dark blue Jeep pull up her driveway toward the rear of her home, he said. She went outside to see who had arrived.
A man in a ski mask emerged from the passenger seat of the Jeep and grabbed the woman, trying to pull a necklace from her neck, the lieutenant said. He was accompanied by a woman, who drove the Jeep.
“A struggle ensued,” Carrillo said. “During the struggle, they ended up back inside the house.”
The robbers tried, but failed, to pull the woman’s watch from her wrist before her screams apparently scared the away, he said. They only managed to get away with a charm from the woman’s necklace.
The woman complained of pain but did not wish to be taken to a hospital, Carrillo said.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.
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.
LOS ANGELES >> A prolific serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” who was arrested following an ill-fated heist in South Pasadena Thursday has been charged in federal court, officials said Saturday.
Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga is accused of eight bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, as well as numerous other incidents of “casing,” spanning Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties since June 10, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
His alleged crime spree came to an end Thursday after he tried, unsuccessfully to rob a South Pasadena bank before being captured minutes later by police in neighboring San Marino, according to South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Friday charging Noriega with the South Pasadena crime.
“However, the investigation is continuing and Noriega potentially faces additional charges,” FBI officials said in a written statement.
Crime attributed to the serial bandit have been reported in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco, Fontana and Beaumont.
The FBI labeled the then-unidentified robber the Bluto Bandit due to a black fake beard he wore during the crimes, reminding investigators of the villain in the Popeye comic strips, Eimiller said.
The Bluto Bandit’s tactic, or modus operandi, was to pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
“In some robberies, the note advised the teller to remain calm; to remove the money within 15 or 30 seconds; or to avoid deploying security devices,” according to the FBI statement. “The suspect generally did not talk during the robberies.”
When San Marino police apprehended Noriega following a brief car chase Thursday, officers found evidence linking him to the crime spree, including bank robbery demand notes, officials said.
He was still wearing his trademark fake beard, Robledo added.
Noriega appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Friday and was remanded to federal custody pending trial, officials said.
Bank surveillance photo courtesy of the FBI.
PASADENA >>> Two men robbed an elderly woman outside a Pasadena department store Thursday evening, officials said.
The crime was first reported about 9 p.m., but occurred several hours earlier, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A Pasadena woman in her 70s had just exited her car and was walking toward the store in the 3100 block of East Colorado Boulevard when two robbers in their 20s or 30s approached her from behind, the lieutenant said.
“The first suspect grabbed her wallet,” he said. “She and he struggled over the wallet. During the struggle, she fell to the ground.”
The robbers removed about $100 cash from the wallet, leaving the wallet itself behind, and fled, Mercado said.
The woman suffered minor injuries including bruising to her arm and leg and complained of pain to her back.
Mercado said the woman went home following the robbery and did not report it until several hours later.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested a fake-bearded serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” Thursday following a failed heist in South Pasadena, which officials alleged was the seventh crime in his multi-county crime spree.
San Marino police chased down and arrested Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga following the 12:30 p.m. failed bank robbery in South Pasadena, according to San Marino police Sgt. Timothy Tebbetts.
“The suspect was wanted by the FBI for at least six prior bank robberies and attempted robberies throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties,” he said.
South Pasadena police first responded to Chase bank, 1305 Fair Oaks Ave., after the robber arrived and passed a teller a note demanding cash, South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo said.
“For unknown reasons, the suspect fled the bank without receiving money, leaving behind the demand note. A bank employee saw the suspect get into a white four door sedan and flee Southbound on Fair Oaks Avenue,” Robledo said.
San Marino police spotted the suspect’s vehicle driving in the area of Huntington Drive and Bradbury Road, Tebbetts said. Noriega led police on a chase before eventually stopping at Mission Drive and Hackett Avenue in Rosemead, where he was taken into custody.
The Bluto Bandit earned his moniker, taken from the villain in the Popeye comic strip, due to the false beard he wore during his crimes, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
She described the Bluto Bandit as the “most prolific” serial bank robber currently operating in the Southland.
Previous robberies and incidents of suspect “casing” attributed to the bandit occurred in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, Unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco and Fontana
“(Noriega) was still wearing the fake black beard when he was arrested,” Robledo said.
Generally, the robber would target Chase banks branches and pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
The “Bluto Bandit” is pictured in this bank surveillance photo during a June 16, 2015, robbery at a Chase bank branch in Duarte. (Courtesy of the FBI.)
PASADENA >> Police jailed a man Saturday after three separate unsuccessful robberies within the span of a few minutes, officials said.
Steven Mark Rish, a 47-year-old transient known to frequent Los Angeles, was arrested about 7:45 p.m., according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The series of ill-fated robberies began about 6:20 p.m. at the Sage Vegan Bistro, 319 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A woman in her 20s entered the eatery and was looking at the menu when Rish walked up behind her and grabbed her purse, Mercado said. Following a struggle over the purse, he managed to overpower the woman and ran for the door with her purse.
A cook at the restaurant, a man in his 30s, ran out from n behind the counter, tackled the robber and recovered the woman’s purse, the lieutenant said. The suspect ran off.
Police received a second call minutes later reporting a “suspicious and violent person” has just tried, unsuccessfully, to snatch belongings from two patrons on the platform of the nearby Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station, he said.
Responding officers spotted Rish, who jumped off the platform and ran south down the train tracks before being chased down and captured, Mercado said.
Officials booked Rish on suspicion of one count of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery, he added.
SAN DIMAS >> A man armed with both a knife and pepper spray robbed a San Dimas gas station Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
The hold-up took place about 3:40 p.m. at a Shell Station, 630 W. Bonita Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Vicki Gregory said.
The robber entered the store and approached the cler, “with a knife in one hand and pepper spray in the other,” the sergeant said. The robber demanded the money from the register, and the cashier handed over between $150 and $200 before running off. He was last seen heading east on Bonita Avenue.
No injuries were reported.
Officials described the robber as a Latino man between 23 and 25 years old, of medium build, with a shaved head. He wore a light-colored, possible gray, T-shirt and black pants.
WEST COVINA >> Two men in a burgundy car snatched a purse from a pregnant woman in front of a West Covina Target store Saturday, police said.
The woman, who was nine months pregnant, was walking about 11 a.m. in the parking lot of the store, 2370 S. Azusa Ave., when the robbers approached, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A burgundy car drove past, and a passenger leaned out the window and grabbed the victim’s purse before the car sped off, the lieutenant said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
The woman appeared unhurt, however paramedics examined her at the scene as a precaution, Patton said.