Wiring stolen from street lights in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA — Officials early Wednesday discovered copper thieves had stripped wiring from five street lights along Mission Road in Alhambra, police said.
City workers noticed street lights in the 3000 and 3100 blocks of Mission Road were not working, and soon realized the reason was that their wiring — about 800 feet worth — had been stolen, Alhambra police Sgt. Gary La Guard said.
The theft was believed to have taken place sometime between Monday and Wednesday morning, police added. No suspect information was available.
The dollar-value of the damage remained unclear Wednesday evening.
“If you may have witnessed any suspicious activity in that area over the last few days, or if you see non-city employees tampering with city lights, please call our dispatch center at 626 570-5168,” police said in a written statement.

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Eleven robberies reported in Alhambra since January

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.”

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Man carjacked in Alhambra; vehicle recovered in El Sereno

ALHAMBRA — Two armed carjackers stole a man’s car Alhambra late Friday before the vehicle was found abandoned in El Sereno, officials said.
The carjacking was reported shortly before 11 p.m. at Lemon Street and Marengo Avenue.
Two men approached the victim and stole his Honda Civic at gunpoint, Alhambra police Lt. Garrett Kennedy said. The victim was not injured.
Minutes later, police discovered the stolen Honda abandoned in El Sereno, the lieutenant said.
Police described the carjackers as two men, one wearing a hooded sweat shirt and the other wearing a white baseball cap. A black Ford Thunderbird was reported as possible connected to the crime.
No further details were available.

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One charged, one released following weekend stabbing in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA — Prosecutors Wednesday filed charges against one of two men arrested in connection with a weekend stabbing in Alhambra, while the second suspect was released from custody without charges, authorities said.
Eric Gonsalo Hernandez, 23, of Los Angeles was charged with attempted murder, along with the special allegation that he used a knife in the crime, as well as assault with a deadly weapon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
But Marco Beltran, 28, of Los Angeles, who was initially arrested along with Hernandez, was freed Wednesday after prosecutors declined to file charges against him, citing insufficient evidence, Alhambra police and district attorney’s officials said.
The alleged attack took place about 1:25 a.m. stabbing in the 200 block of Curtis Avenue.
The stabbing victim, a 27-year-old Pasadena man, suffered numerous stab wounds to his torso but was expected to recover, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. A knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered at the scene.
Both the suspect and victim had been drinking at a nearby house party when the became involved in a fight that spilled out onto the street, the sergeant said.
The subject of the fight remained unclear.
Hernandez entered no plea at his appearance Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court, Santiago said. An arraignment hearing was scheduled for Jan. 22. He was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

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UPDATED: Two men accused of attempted murder following Alhambra stabbing

ALHAMBRA — Police jailed two Los Angeles men in connection with a stabbing early Saturday in a residential neighborhood, officials said.
Eric Gonsalo Hernandez, 23, and Marco Antonio Beltran, 28, were booked on suspicion of attempted murder following the 1:25 a.m. stabbing in the 200 block of South Curtis Avenue, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
Police responded to a report of a fight when they encountered a stabbing victim, Sgt. Jim Hammond said in a written statement.
“Officers located two subject in the area and, through their investigation, determined they were involved in the crime,” according to the police statement. “The victim received serious injuries.”
The victim suffered several stab wounds, “mostly to the abdomen area,” Johnson said.
The wounded man was listed in stable condition at a hospital and expected to recover, he added.
Hernandez and Beltran were found in the area and arrested in connection with the crime, Johnson said. A knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered.
A motive in the alleged attack remained under investigation.
Police noted that there was a party in the area at the time, but it was not clear Sunday whether the stabbing was related to the gathering.
According to police and Los Angeles County booking records, Hernandez and Beltran were being held in lieu of $1 million bail each pending their scheduled arraignments Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Student held for psychiatric evaluation following threatening statements concerning high school in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA — A teenager was being held for psychiatric evaluation Saturday after making potentially threatening statements against Mark Keppel High School, then escaping from a psychiatric facility in Pasadena before being recaptured, authorities said.
Officials received word Friday afternoon, after the conclusion of the school day, that a student from Mark Keppel High School had made statements construed as a possible threat against the school, 501 E. Hellman Ave., Alhambra police Sgt. Edward Rodriguez said. Further details regarding the statements were not available.
Police met with the student and ultimately took him to a psychiatric facility in the 300 block of South Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena for evaluation, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said. But the 17-year-old boy escaped from the facility Friday evening.
Authorities issued a bulletin to nearby law enforcement agencies, and Monterey Park police spotted the young man in their city Friday night, Rodriguez said. He was taken to a different facility to be held for psychiatric evaluation.

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Alhambra man sentenced for $1 million credit card fraud scheme

LOS ANGELES — An Alhambra man received a sentence of more than 7 years in federal prison Thursday for heading a global credit card fraud ring that netted more than $1 million, authorities said.
Zhanghang Wu, 38, received his 87-month prison sentence from United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. He pleaded guilty in December, 2012, to charges of conspiracy and credit card fraud.
He was convicted of leading a fraud ring that, “used stolen credit card numbers from around the world to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of luxury goods, cosmetics, electronics and other merchandise at retail stores,” Mrozek said.
Once credit card information was obtained, “That stolen information was used to manufacture counterfeit credit cards that bore the names of ‘runners’ — co-conspirators who went to retail stores including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Apple and Abercrombie & Fitch — who used the fake cards to make fraudulent transactions,” according to Mrozek. “After the runners purchased items with the counterfeit credit cards, they either returned the goods for credit, or the goods were sold to other parties.”
Investigators looking into the fraudulent use of credit cards in the San Gabriel Valley first discovered Wu’s wide-reaching scheme, officials said. He had previously been investigated for similar allegations by Chinese authorities.
After searching Wu’s home and finding machinery used to make credit cards and computers containing credit card information, Secret Service agents arrested Wu in July of 2012 in Las Vegas, “where he had He had fled after the search of his residence and where he continued to engage in credit card fraud,” Mrozek said.
“Wu had been living in casino hotels for several weeks and at the time of his arrest, was in the process of sending a group of runners to Chicago to continue the scheme,” Mrozek added.
Wu was the second San Gabriel Valley man to be sentenced to prison this month for widespread credit card fraud.
Xiaoliang Chen, 27, of Monterey Park was sentenced Nov. 4 to more than four years in federal prison for a similar scam that netted nearly a half-million dollars, Mrozek said. Chen was arrested in August of 2012, also in Las Vegas.

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UPDATED: Blocks of wiring stolen from street light system in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA — A thief or thieves have stolen several blocks worth wiring from Alhambra’s street light system since the weekend, authorities said.
The thefts, which were initially believed to have caused more than $20,000 worth of damage, took place between Saturday and Tuesday, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
The first was discovered Sunday afternoon after resident reported the street lights in a neighborhood along the 1300 block of South Westminster Avenue and the 2800 block of Shorb Street, after residents contacted officials Sunday to report the street lights in front of their home never came on Saturday night, the sergeant said.
Police and work crews soon realized the outage was not a mechanical failure, but the result of about 2,000 feet of wire being stripped from the system, Johnson said. The wire was believed to have been taken sometime between Saturday morning and Sunday.
An even larger wire theft was discovered Tuesday, police said.
“The wires were removed on the east and west sides of Winthrop (Drive) between Poplar Boulevard and Conchord (Avenue),” Johnson said. The theft apparently occurred sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.
Wiring had also been stripped in the same area along Commonwealth Avenue between Winthrop Drive and Westmont Drive.
While no witnesses had come forward to provide a concrete link between the two wire theft incidents, though based on the close proximity and time frame of the crimes, “It’s certainly something our detectives are looking into,” Johnson said.
Police asked anyone who sees a suspicious person tampering with wiring to notify authorities immediately. In general, city work crews do not work after 3 p.m.
Additionally, police expressed concern over the possibility that wires left exposed by the thief or thieves could be energized and pose a danger. Anyone who sees exposed wires is urged not to touch them and contact police immediately.
As two unfortunate alleged would-be thieves demonstrated earlier this month, electrical wiring theft can be a dangerous endeavor.
A man was badly shocked Oct. 19 while attempting to steal wire from the abandoned Fred C. Nelles facility in Whittier, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Charles Quijada.
The previous weekend, another man suffered severe burns and was hospitalized in critical condition after he received a 12,000-volt jolt while trying to steal wiring from a Southern California Edison facility in the 9900 block of Beverly Boulevard in Pico Rivera on Oct. 13, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
But rising metal prices provide an incentive for thieves to cash in on ill-gotten copper.
According to Kitco, a Canadian precious metals company that charts the price of metals, copper was selling Wednesday for $3.30 per pound, up from about $3.05 as recently as August.
The price of copper has more than doubled over the past five years, according to Kitco data. Copper could be purchased in late 2008 for well under $1.50 per pound.

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Alhambra police arrest suspect after online meeting turns into alleged sexual assault

1028_NWS_PSN-L-ASSAULTA man was being held in lieu of $4.3 million bail Sunday in connection the the sexual assault of a woman he met up with in Alhambra last weekend after they became acquainted online, police said.
Christian Aceves, 32, was arrested Oct. 21 in connection with the attack, which took place Oct. 19, Alhambra police Sgt. Edward Rodriguez said.
“The victim reported she met Mr. Aceves online and agreed to meet him in Alhambra,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
But when she met Aceves, he pulled a sharp instrument and threatened her, Rodriguez said. He drove the woman to a secluded spot in Los Angeles where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Detectives arrested Aceves shortly before 8 p.m. Oct. 21, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
“Detectives believe there may be additional victims of Mr. Aceves that have not yet come forward to report potential crimes,” according to the police statement.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Alhambra police Detective huezo at 626-570-5159.
Aceves was scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court for a hearing in his case.

PHOTO of Christian Aceves courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Transient accused of stealing computers from SGV hospital chain arrested; computers with info of 729,000 patients still missing

1024_NWS_PSN-L-LAPTOPSPolice Wednesday arrested a transient accused of stealing laptops computers containing private patient information from a regional hospital chain earlier this month, however the pilfered computers remained missing, police said.
Christopher Lee Brown, 36, was booked on suspicion of burglary after police spotted him in a transient encampment near the 710 Freeway and Valley Boulevard, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
But the laptop computers he’s accused of stealing in an Oct. 12 break-in at AHMC Healthcare Inc.’s facility in Alhambra were not found.
“They searched his personal belongings by where he was camped out. They couldn’t find the computers,” Johnson said.
The machines, which contain information of about 729,000 patients of AHMC, were taken about 11 a.m. from the sixth-floor of the building at the 1000 S. Fremont Ave, which is monitored by both security cameras and a security guards, AHMC officials said.
The information contained on the two password-protected laptops includes names, Medicare and insurance identification numbers, diagnosis and procedure codes and record of insurance and patient payments, officials said.
Affected patients on Medicare, which amounts to about 10 percent of the affected group, potentially had their social security numbers compromised by the security breach.
Patients who received treatment at Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park Hospital, Whittier Hospital Medical Center, Greater El Monte Community Hospital, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Anaheim Regional Medical Center are among those whose information was stored on the computers, according to AHMC.
The theft took place on a Saturday and was not discovered until two days later when employees returned to work Oct. 14. A review of security camera footage allowed officials to narrow down the timeframe of the burglary and identify Brown as the suspect, Johnson said.
Police had been checking locations known to be frequented by transients and following up on reports of possible sightings from the public when officers spotted Brown shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Johnson said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
According to county booking records, Brown was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.
Police had received no indication Wednesday that information taken from the stolen computers had been used for identity theft, Johnson said. But many AHMC patients contacted police and expressed worry about that possibility.
Those concerned that their information may have been compromised can reach AHMC’s Privacy Department at 855-977-6678 for more information.

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