Takeover robbery reported at Arcadia restaurant; similar crime took place last weekend

ARCADIA >> A masked gunman emptied the safe of an Italian restaurant early Sunday during the second takeover-style restaurant robbery reported in Arcadia this month, police said.
The robbery took place just after midnight at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, 311 E. Live Oak Ave., Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said in a written statement. The eatery was closed at the time.
A robber with a bandana covering his face approached two employees who were taking out the trash behind the restaurant, Castro said.
“The suspect pointed a chrome-colored handgun at the employees and forced them back into the restaurant,” the lieutenant said. “Once inside, the suspect confronted the manager and ordered everyone into the office. The suspect demanded all of the money from the safe.”
The manager complied, filling a bag with about $6,000 and handing it over to the robber, police said.
The robber ran to a dark-colored vehicle parked on Third Avenue and fled, Castro said. It was not clear whether he drove himself or had an accomplice waiting behind the wheel.
Investigators described the robber as a black man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds. He wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and carried a chrome, semi-automatic handgun.
The suspect description and tactics involved in the robbery closely resemble another reported late last Sunday, Jan. 4, at Coco’s Bakery Restaurant, 1150 W. Colorado St. in Arcadia.
An armed robber approached an employee who was taking out the garbage and ordered him back into the restaurant at gunpoint, according to Lt. Roy Nakamura.
Once inside the restaurant, the gunman ordered a manager to fill a backpack with money, Nakamura said. The robber locked both the manager and employee inside a freezer before fleeing.
No one was injured in either robbery, police said.
While it was too early to say definitively if the robberies were linked, “They’re fairly similar,” Lt. Tom Cullen said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Robbers attack security guard at Arcadia shopping mall; two suspects arrested

ARCADIA >> Police jailed two Pasadena men accused of punching a security guard and threatening him with pepper spray after being caught shoplifting from a sporting goods store at an Arcadia shopping mall Sunday, officials said.
The robbery took place just before 12:40 p.m. at Sport Chalet inside Westfield Santa Anita, 400 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
A security guard spotted two young men fill a backpack with items from the store and leave, the lieutenant said. The security guard chased after them as they ran to a black Honda Civic in the parking lot.
“The loss prevention (officer) caught up to them at a vehicle,” Cullen said. “At that point, one or both of them struck the loss prevention officer.”
The robbers threatened the security guard with pepper spray, though he was not sprayed with the inflammatory agent, as was initially reported to be the case, the lieutenant said. The security guard suffered no significant injuries.
Cullen said the two suspects fled in the Honda, but someone was able to provide police with a description of the getaway car.
Officers found a car matching the description driving nearby on Colorado Boulevard, police said. The driver refused to pull over, initiating a brief chase.
Police pursued the Honda west until the suspects stopped were taken into custody at Corta Calle and Buff Avenue, Cullen said.
Some stolen items were recovered from the suspects, Cullen said. Officials found the suspects’ backpack discarded back at the mall, the lieutenant said. It contained primarily clothing taken from the store.
Dominique Javan Jones, 20, and Royce Lee Emerson Camp, 18, both of Pasadena, were booked on suspicion of robbery, police said.
The alleged driver, Jones, is also accused of evading police and driving without a license, Cullen said. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant stemming from a previous vandalism case.
Jones was being held in lieu of $105,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, while Camps was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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30 jailed during San Gabriel Valley AB 109 compliance sweep

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A task force charged with monitoring convicts released from jail under AB 109 guidelines arrested 30 people during a compliance check throughout the western San Gabriel Valley early Wednesday, officials said.
The task force visited the listed homes of 88 people who are free on Post-Release Community Supervision, under the 2011 state prison alignment plan, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said in a written statement. The probationers were contacted at 61 of the homes, while the remaining 27 were either not home or not longer living at their listed addresses.
Compliance checks took place in Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Monrovia, El Monte and Monterey Park, Sgt. Brett Bourgeous said.
“The zero-tolerance focus of the enforcement campaign was aimed at apprehending AB 109 absconders with outstanding warrants, and conducting compliance checks in accordance with a person’s probation conditions,” Flores said. “Many of the probationers contacted during the course of the operation were known to have previous court violations to include weapons charges, assault charges and property crimes.”
The 30 probationers arrested Wednesday were accused of crimes ranging from violating probation to drug charges, officials said. Officers jailed at least one of the probationers on suspicion of gun possession and seized a firearm.
The West San Gabriel Valley Anti-Crime Task Force is comprised of officers from the Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Monrovia, El Monte and Monterey Park police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Officials from the Long Beach, Burbank, Glendale and San Fernando police department also took part in Wednesday’s campaign, along with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and officials from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services.

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El Monte man accused of Arcadia package thefts

ARCADIA >> Police jailed an El Monte man Friday they say has been pilfering packages from porches in Arcadia in recent days.
David John Dunn, 31, was booked on suspicion of theft, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said. He was also being held on a “no bail” warrant related to a narcotics case.
Officers responded to the 1700 block of Highland Oaks Drive shortly before 4 p.m. after a someone reported a suspicious person loitering near a porch, police said.
Officers stopped Dunn as he was leaving the neighborhood in a vehicle, the lieutenant said. Police determined Dunn had opened a package on the porch, but left the box and its contents behind.
But other items found inside Dunn’s car had been stolen in package thefts in the same neighborhood Thursday and Friday, police said. And Dunn matched the description of a man seen snagging a package from the same neighborhood Thursday.
The investigation was ongoing, and police were looking into whether Dunn was connected to additional thefts.

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Monterey Park man pleads not guilty to Arcadia child molestation charges

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PASADENA >> A Monterey Park man pleaded not guilty Thursday to molesting two 10-year-old boys inside the bathroom of an Arcadia restaurant last week and earlier this week, authorities said.
Kwan Yven Chow, 31, appeared in Pasadena Superior Court, where he denied two counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 14 years old, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He was ordered back to court Dec. 2 for a hearing in his case.
In addition to the two felony charges, prosecutors also accuse Chow of the special circumstance of multiple victims.
The alleged molestations took place Monday and Nov. 8 in a restroom at Dave & Busters at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., according to Arcadia police officials.
Police jailed Chow Monday afternoon after the mother of the victim and the manager chased after him, and mall security detained him until police arrived, Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said. Investigators later learned about the second alleged victim, who was allegedly groped inside the same bathroom two days earlier.
Bail was set at $1.25 million, officials said.

BOOKING photo of suspect Kwan Chow courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.

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Chino man gets 374 years to life in prison for spree of follow-home robberies targeting San Gabriel Valley women

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ALHAMBRA >> A judge sentenced a Chino man to 374 years to life in prison Thursday for a spree of follow-home robberies targeting lone Asian women throughout the San Gabriel Valley in 2011, officials said.
An Alhambra Superior Court convicted Jose Lewis Avila, 33, of nine counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and one count of child abuse. The 12 charges stem from a eight incidents in March and April of 2011, investigators said.
Three robberies, one of which involved two victims, occurred in Alhambra, officials said. Three of he robberies occurred in San Gabriel, one occurred in Arcadia and one took place in Monterey Park.
“The defendant targeted women driving alone,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Once the victims arrived at their homes, Avila accosted them and demanded their money and property. During each robbery, the defendant used a BB gun and covered his face with a bandana or mask.
But detectives managed to identify Avila the culprit in the crimes through surveillance video and credit card charges, officials said.
Additionally, Avila’s “unique” and “pretty” eyes helped victims point him out as their attacker, said Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian, who prosecuted the case with Deputy District Attorney Gabriel Kim.
Avila was convicted of a similar string of crimes in 2005, Ayvazian said.
The assault with a deadly weapon charge was the result of Avila shooting one of his victims in the face with a BB gun during a robbery in Arcadia, officials said. He also threatened a witness not to contact the police, leading to the charge of dissuading a witness. And one of the robbery victims was holding a child in her arms during the crime, resulting in the charge of child abuse.
According to district attorney’s officials, the jury also found true special allegations that Avila used a deadly and dangerous weapon, the BB gun, in his crimes, and that he inflicted great bodily injury.

PHOTO of Jose Avila, 33, of Chino, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Report of shooting brings heavy police response to Arcadia neighborhood; no victim found

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ARCADIA >> Police responded en mass to a report of a shooting inside an Arcadia apartment Friday, but ultimately forced their way into the home to find it empty, officials said.
The incident began about 1:20 p.m. when officials received a third-hand report of a shooting at an apartment in the 800 block of Arcadia Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
1020_NWS_PSN-L-APARTMENT3A person called a television news station and said he had just shot his grandmother inside the apartment, the sergeant said. The TV station notified Pasadena police of the call, and Pasadena officials notified their counterparts in Arcadia.
Police surrounded the home and took tactical positions with rifles at the ready.
After a little more than two hours, police used a battering ram to force their way through the front door.
Officers found no one inside the home, which was secured with a burglar alarm when police entered.
“Officers were ultimately able to make contact with the people who lived there. This was determined to have been a falsely reported crime,” according to Lt. Tom Cullen.
Bonomo said the motive behind the call, which was believed to have been made from a pre-paid cell phone, remained under investigation, along with the identity of the caller.

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Suspicious package found at arboretum in Arcadia determined to be harmless

ARCADIA >> A suspicious package caused a stir at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia Thursday afternoon before officials ultimately found to be harmless box of equipment left behind by an electrical contractor, authorities said.
The box was first reported to officials about 3:30 p.m. at the arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Deputy Johnny Jones of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said.
Officials cordoned off the area and shut down nearby roads, including Baldwin Avenue, with help from Arcadia police, Jones said.
Officials determined the item was a box with wires protruding from it that had been left behind by a contractor who recently made electrical repairs, Jones said.
Officials sounded the all-clear about 5:20 p.m.

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Skateboarder attacked and robbed in Arcadia

ARCADIA >> A group of attackers beat up and robbed a skateboarder early Saturday in an Arcadia alley, police said.
The four robbers confronted a 19-year-old Monrovia man about 2 a.m. as he was riding a skateboard in an alley along the 100 block of East Huntington Drive, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
They punched the victim and stole a gold ring from him before fleeing, the lieutenant said.
The victim suffered injuries to his face and was taken to a hospital for treatment, he said. The injuries were not believed to be serious.
Police described on of the robbers as a Latino man between 30 and 35 years old, about 6 feet 3 inches tall, 230 pounds and wearing dark clothing. A detailed description of his three male accomplices was not available.

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Home-invasion robbery, kidnapping reported in San Marino, Arcadia

SAN MARINO >> A residential break-in turned into a home-invasion and kidnapping after a homeowner and a friend walked in on two burglars Wednesday, police said Sunday.
The series of crimes began about noon Wednesday when a resident arrived home and encountered two burglars who were already inside, San Marino police officials said in a written statement. Police declined to say where in the city the crime took place.
“The two men kept the resident at knife point as they continued to search the home for valuables,” according the police statement. Money was stolen.
When a friend of the victim arrived at the home a short time later, the robbers turned their attention to him, officials said.
“The two suspects kidnapped the family friend and forced him to take him to his house in Arcadia,” the police statement said.
The Arcadia home was in the 1000 block of South Sixth Street, according to Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo.
The robbers stole an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing the Arcadia home, officials said.
No significant injuries were reported as a result of the crimes, police said.
A detailed suspect description was not available, and no further details were released.

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