ARCADIA >> Police used a GPS-tracked “bait package” to nab a package theft suspect in Arcadia early Sunday, as part of an ongoing initiative launched by police in the weeks leading up to the holiday season, officials said.
Johnny Tang, 24, of El Monte was arrested on suspicion of grand theft following the 8:40 a.m. sting, according to Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores.
Police received notification that one of their GPS-equipped decoy packages had been snatched in the southwest portion of the city, Flores said.
Officers quickly tracked the package to a neighborhood several miles away where they recovered the parcel and arrested Tang, the lieutenant said.
Tang, who also being sought due to a pre-existing warrant, was being held in lieu of $70,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
Police have arrested numerous alleged package thieves through the use of the GPS bait packages in recent months.
Under the program, police partner with residents and business owners to place the packages, laden with GPS tracking equipment, throughout the city as bait for opportunistic criminals.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity is encouraged to report it to Arcadia police at 626-574-5151. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
ARCADIA >> A man fled with an unknown amount of cash after robbing a bank branch inside of an Arcadia grocery store Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The crime took place about 3:30 p.m. at a U.S. Bank branch inside of a Ralphs grocery store, 1101 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
“A man walked up to the window and presented a demand note to the teller as he verbally demanded money,” according to Lt. Roy Nakamura.
“With the U.S. currency in his hands, the male suspect walked out of the location and away from the area without being seen,” Sgt. Jason Davis said.
The robber was last seen walking south along Sunset Boulevard toward Huntington Drive, Nakamura said.
No weapon was seen during the crime, he added.
Initial radio reports from the scene indicated the suspect claimed to have a bomb, but police Wednesday night would not confirm whether that was the case. It was unclear whether the supermarket was evacuated or closed as a result of the incident.
Police described the robber as a Latino man, approximately 26 to 27 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 200 pounds. He was unshaven and had a mustache and a short goatee, and possible a mole on his right cheek.
The robber wore a black-and-white striped Fedora hat with a black and white band, a dark zippered hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
The FBI is also assisting Arcadia police in the investigation.
ARCADIA >> The problem of package theft during the holiday season is a perennial problem for law enforcement, but police in Arcadia are taking a new approach to the issue, using GPS tracking technology to turn the tables on package-pilfering Grinches.
Police have begun setting out “bait packages” containing GPS trackers that lead investigators to their precise locations once stolen.
“Detectives are partnering with citizens and local businesses and placing bait packages equipped with tracking devices, which notify
police personnel when packages have been stolen,” according to Arcadia police Sgt. Brett Bourgeous.
“This technology allows officers to locate suspects with a high degree of accuracy, in order to stop criminals from continuing their crime spree,” he said.
Six package theft suspect have been arrested in recent weeks through the operation, Arcadia police officials said.
The most recent arrests took place Sunday morning, after one such “bait package” was allegedly swiped from a porch in the southeast portion of town, Lt. Colleen Flores said.
Police were notified about 7:30 a.m. that one of the packages had been picked up and was on the move, she said.
“Officers tracked the package and lcoated the two suspects within a few blocks of where the package was stolen,” Flores added.
Arrested were Steve Lopez, 25, and Dandre Lageman, 30, both of El Monte.
Both suspects were booked on suspicion of grand theft, and both were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, records show.
In at least once case, police recovered not only the bait package, but also other packages stolen from other Arcadia residents, Bourgeous said. “This arrest ensured the items intended to be received by our residents were delivered in time for the holidays.”
Anyone interested in participating in the program can contact Sgt. Bourgeous at 626-574-5163.
PHOTOS of package theft suspects Steve Lopez (top) and Dandre Lageman (below) courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.
ARCADIA >> Police in Monrovia arrested a man early Friday after he broke into a woman’s home in Arcadia, robbed her of her car keys and stole her car the previous afternoon, authorities said.
Troy Lucarelli, 43, of Temple City was being held on a domestic violence warrant as officials prepared to seek charges of burglary, robbery and auto theft, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said.
He showed up at a home in the 900 block of Paloma Drive shortly after 4:30 p.m. Thursday and entered through an unlocked door, Flores said in a written statement. Minutes earlier, he was believed to have tried, but failed, to break into another home less than a mile away in the 800 block of Balboa Drive.
Once inside the Paloma Drive home, “The suspect confronted the homeowner and demanded the keys to the victim’s vehicle,” Flores said. “Fearing for her safety, the victim complied with the suspect and he left the location in her vehicle.”
Police soon found the stolen car abandoned several blocks away, she said.
Investigators identified Lucarelli as the suspect, Flores said. He was already being sought by Monrovia police due to a domestic violence-related warrant.
Monrovia officers found and arrested Lucarelli about 4 a.m. Friday.
He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show, however his bail amount was likely to increase as additional expected charges are added next week. He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
The crimes took place the same day that two masked gunman forced their way into a home in the 1900 block of South Tulip Lane and attacked a resident in his bed, Lt. Mike Castro said. The suspects in the morning break-in were not caught. The Tulip Avenue incident was not believed to be connected to the break-ins on Paloma and Balboa drives Thursday afternoon.
PHOTO of Troy Lucarelli, 43, of Temple City courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.
MONROVIA >> Police arrested four suspects who led Monrovia police on a short chase in a carjacked minivan before continuing to flee on foot, prompting a lockdown at an elementary school where one of the suspects was ultimately arrested, authorities said.
A police automated license plate reader spotted a stolen 2006 Ford Freestar about 11:30 a.m. at Mayflower Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, police officials said. The van had been carjacked Saturday from a senior citizen outside Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
The driver of the minivan led officers on a short chase, which circled the neighborhood and came to and end when the minivan stopped abruptly at Lemon and Mayflower avenues, Monrovia police Lt. Heath Harvey said.
Three teens and one young adult — two male and two female — fled from the car and run in four different directions, Harvey said. Two were quickly apprehended, and a third was apprehended with help from Arcadia and Pasadena police during a search of nearby yards.
As the search for the fourth suspect continued, officials at nearby Monroe Elementary School, 402 W. Colorado Blvd. called police to report a young woman had arrived at the campus and walked into the cafeteria, Harvey said.
The school was placed on lockdown, and officers rushed to the campus where they took the female suspect into custody without a struggle, he said.
Investigators were still looking into whether the four suspects arrested after fleeing from the stolen minivan were involved in the original carjacking five days earlier in Arcadia.
A 68-year-old man was getting out of his car when two teenagers approached him and demanded his car keys, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
The young men approached the victim and demanded his keys, and he turned them over out of fear. The carjackers fled in the minivan. No weapon was seen.
The identity of the adult suspect was not available pending the booking process, officials said.
PHOTOS by Sarah Reingewirtz
ARCADIA >> A Pomona man and woman fled from Arcadia police in a stolen car before being arrested Friday night, officials said.
Michael Gomez, 35, and Chelsea Casas, 25, were expected to be booked on suspicion of auto theft “at a minimum,” Arcadia police Lt. Vaughn Whalen said. Gomez was also accused of evading police.
Arcadia officers tried to pull over a 1996 Honda Civic about 8:10 p.m. at Huntington Drive an Second Avenue, the lieutenant said. The car had been reported stolen out of Pomona.
The car accelerated away, kicking off a pursuit.
The driver stopped at Huntington Drive and Fifth Avenue and let out a passenger before continuing to flee, Whalen said. Police detained the passenger, later identified as Casas.
Police chased Gomez onto the eastbound 210 Freeway before calling off the chase and electing to follow the car via helicopter, Whalen said.
Officers watched from a safe distance as Gomez exited the freeway, abandoned the car at a mobile home park at Foothill Boulevard and Garey Avenue and ran, officials said. Pomona police found and arrested him within minutes.
ARCADIA >> An El Monte man already sought on an auto theft warrant led police on chase in a stolen car from Arcadia to Temple City, where he was arrested following a crash early Sunday, authorities said.
Bryan Paul Sanchez, 20, was behind the wheel of a Toyota Sienna van when police tried to pull him over for a traffic violation about 3:30 a.m. at Sunset Boulevard and Duarte Road, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said. Sanchez sped away, and the chase was on.
“The pursuit entered the city of Temple City where the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a (Southern California) Edison telephone pole,”police said in a written statement.
Sanchez continued fleeing on foot following the crash about two miles to the south at Temple City Boulevard, just south of Olive Street, police said. But he was quickly apprehended in the area.
The car he had been driving was reported stolen the previous night in South El Monte, Flores said.
Officers also found drugs and a suspected stolen credit card in Sanchez’s possession, Flores said.
He was booked on suspicion of auto theft, evading police, receiving stolen property, drug possession, hit-and-run and his outstanding arrest warrant.
Sanchez, who was already wanted on a warrant for auto theft with a history of the same, was being held without bail, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
ARCADIA >> Two armed men helped themselves to money from a gas station cash register during a robbery along Huntington Drive late Wednesday, officials said.
The robbers were each armed with ha handgun about 10;30 p.m. when they barged into a 76 gas station at Huntington Drive and First Street, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
“They ordered the clerk to open the cash register,” he said. “One suspect removed unknown amount (of cash) from the register.”
The woman working at the gas station was unhurt, Castro said.
The robbers were last seen running east through the parking lot, the lieutenant said. No getaway car was seen.
Police described both robbers as Latino men in their 30s.
One was of medium build, with brown eyes, thick eyebrows, and a mustache. He wore a dark shirt, a brown plaid jacket and jeans.
The second robber as of thin build wearing a black T-shirt and a gray beanie.
ARCADIA >> A Pasadena woman suffering from schizophrenia who went missing in Arcadia Thursday turned up safe Sunday morning, officials said.
Linda Lee, 61, was found in San Bernardino County, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said. Further details regarding her discovery or how she ended up in San Bernardino County, were not available.
Loved ones reported the Pasadena resident missing Friday after she vanished during a visit to family in Arcadia on Thursday, police said.
ARCADIA >> A Pasadena woman suffering from schizophrenia went missing Thursday while visiting family in Arcadia, police said.
Linda Lee, 61, was last seen about 4 p.m. Thursday at the home of a relative in the 1100 block of South Second Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. Kollin Cieadlo said.
“At that time she left the home and has not been seen or heard from since,” he said.
“Linda has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and is required to take daily medication,” he said.
The woman, who lives at an assisted living facility in Pasadena, has never gone missing before, Cieadlo said.
Worried family members reported her missing to police when she still hadn’t turned up Friday, he said.
She’s described as Chinese, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 165 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a red T-shirt and shorts of an unknown color.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5151.
PHOTO of Linda Lee courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.