Arcadia apartment building fire displaces 13, injures one

ARCADIA >> A fire at an Arcadia apartment building displaced 13 people, injured one and caused about $300,000 worth of damage, officials said.
The fire was reported at 1:43 a.m. at an apartment building in the 600 block of Windsor Road, Arcadia Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner said in a written statement.
“Upon their arrival, firefighters encountered heavy fire and smoke coming from an upstairs unit of an eight unit apartment building,” Stogner said. “The unit of origin was fully involved in fire, which had extended into the attic space.”
Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames in about 20 minutes, she said.
All 13 residents of the apartment complex got out of the burning building before firefighters arrived.
“One occupant was transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation and minor cuts,” Stogner said.
The Red Cross was summoned to help the displaced residents find lodging.
Fire officials estimated the fire caused $250,000 worth of damage to the building, and another $50,000 to items stored inside.
The fire ignited in a sleeping area and was initially believed to be accidental, though the specific cause remained under investigation.

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Burglars flee empty-handed after breaking into Arcadia Nordstrom

ARCADIA >> Three burglars broke into an Arcadia Nordstrom store early Saturday and headed for the jewelry case, but fled empty-handed, police said.
The 4:07 a.m. break-in at the store in the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, 400 S. Baldwin Avenue, was the second similar crime reported at the retailer in recent months, Arcadia police Sgt. Vaughn Whalen said.
Three burglars forced their way into the same store just after 4 a.m. Dec. 31, escaping with as much as $230,000 worth of jewelry and purses, Lt. Mike Castro said at the time.
But the store no longer stores jewelry in display cases overnight, Whalen said. Surveillance footage of the burglary shows the intruders going over to the jewelry display cases, then fleeing after finding it empty.
They had pried open a door to get into the Nordstrom store, Whalen added. The burglars were initially described only as three people, two of them wearing black ski masks.
Investigators had yet to determined whether Saturday morning’s break-in was related to the previous Nordstrom burglary on New Year’s Eve.
“Our detectives will be looking into all aspects of it,” Whalen said.
In the December crime, three burglars entered the store through a window before helping themselves to between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of jewelry, as well as $20,000 to $30,000 worth of purses, Castro said. A detailed description of the three burglars was not available.

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UPDATED: Elderly Arcadia man fatally struck by pickup truck; second man injured

ARCADIA >> An elderly Arcadia man died and another was injured late Wednesday after they were struck by a pickup truck while crossing Huntington Drive near the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, authorities said.
A 78-year-old Arcadia man and a 76-year-old Arcadia man, were struck as they crossed Huntington Drive at Gate 1 about 9:15 p.m., Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
Both men were taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, where the 78-year-old man succumbed to his injuries a short time later, Cullen said. His identity was not available.
The other man suffered injuries described as moderate and was expected to survive.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that two adult men were walking from the northwest corner of the intersection in a southeast direction across Westbound Huntington Drive, well outside of the designated north/south crosswalk on the east side of the intersection,” Cullen said.
The 1983 Toyota pickup truck that struck the men was being driven west on Huntington Drive by a 19-year-old Arcadia man, Cullen said. The driver was cooperating with authorities and was not arrested Wednesday.
Police said the intersection is normally controlled by a traffic signals, but the signals were not functioning due to a power outage. The signals began functioning again minutes after the incident.

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Arcadia firefighters to ‘Fill the Boot’ for charity

ARCADIA >> Firefighters are planning to once again “Fill the Boot” at an Arcadia intersection next month to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Off-duty Arcadia Fire Department personnel with accept donations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 11 outside Fire Station 106, at Huntington Drive and Baldwin Avenue, fire department officials said in a written statement.
“Firefighters will be stationed on all four corners of the intersection and will approach vehicles in a safety conscious manner only when motioned to do so by charitable and generous motorists,” according to the statement. The event may result in minor traffic delays.

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Police: Arcadia burglary dismantled after early-morning raids in Pasadena, Altadena

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Investigators following up on a burglary arrest from earlier this month carried out early-morning search warrants Thursday, arresting two more members of an alleged burglary ring, authorities said.
The multi-agency West San Gabriel Valley Anti-Crime Task Force and A.B. 109 Team arrested Shawn Ashton Sykes, 21, of Altadena and Koreana Channise Muhammad, 19, of Altadena early Thursday as they performed searched at five locations within Altadena and Pasadena, according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Sykes was booked on suspicion of residential burglary, while Muhammad was booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property and being an accessory to burglary, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
Thursday morning’s searches followed the arrest of Kenneth Wayne James, 21, of Altadena at the scene of March 13 residential break-in in the 1100 block of West Foothill Boulevard.
Three suspects were seen fleeing from the burglarized home, but only James was captured, Arcadia police Lt. Bob Anderson said at the time. But the suspects’ car was found abandoned in the area.
The car was found to belong to Muhammad, officials said. She reported it stolen shortly after the bungled burglary on March 13.
“Through investigation, the task force Detectives were able to identify all of the suspects, including the female who owns the suspect vehicle, as Pasadena/Altadena Blood gang members,” according tot he police statement. “The Task Force Detectives also uncovered that they were a burglary crew that is suspected of targeting several Arcadia homes in the past year.”
Further details of the alleged Arcadia burglaries were not available Thursday.
Property recovered during Thursday-morning’s searches yielded suspected stolen property, including a big screen TV reported stolen in a burglary in Los Angeles, police added.
James pleaded “no contest” to a charge of residential burglary during his initial appearance in Pasadena Superior Court on March 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He received a two-year prison sentenced, which was suspended, along with 90 days in jail, three years of probation and 300 hours of community service, Santiago said.
James was released from custody March 19, six days after his arrest, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Sykes, who was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, and Muhammad, who was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail, were both scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, according to booking records.

PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

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Five DUI suspects arrested during Arcadia checkpoint

ARCADIA — Police arrested five people on suspicion of drunken driving during a checkpoint held late Saturday and early Sunday, officials said.
The checkpoint took place from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday along Baldwin Avenue at Gate 8 of the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, according to Arcadia police Sgt. Brett Bourgeous.
Nearly 3,000 cars passed through the checkpoint, and officers screened 2,057 drivers, the sergeant said.
Officers administered 12 field sobriety tests, ultimately arresting for adults on suspicion of drunken driving, he said. A minor was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Another driver was cited for having an open container of alcohol inside a vehicle, police said.
Two people were arrested due to outstanding traffic warrants, Bourgeous said. Twelve drivers were cited for driving without a valid license, and five motorists were arrested or cited for driving on suspended licenses.
Police impounded five vehicles for 30 days, and seven vehicles for one day.
Police in nearby Pasadena also hosted a checkpoint in that city late Friday into early Saturday, however the results of the checkpoint were not available Sunday.

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Pasadena man, West Covina man accused of torching Lexus for insurance money

PASADENA >> Investigators Friday jailed a West Covina and a Pasadena man on suspicion of reporting a car stolen from an Arcadia shopping mall, then torching it in Pasadena in an insurance fraud scheme.
Tony Martinez Jr, 26, of West Covina and Robert Luis Palacios, 44, of Pasadena, were arrested Friday morning and booked on suspicion of arson, conspiracy, insurance fraud and filing a false police report, according to Pasadena Fire Department officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Martinez owned the scorched 2008 Lexus IS 250 involved in the alleged fraud, fire spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. She described Palacios as his friend.
The arrest came following more than six weeks of investigation, which began about 8:45 p.m. Jan. 25 when Pasadena police were notified of a 2008 Lexus IS 250 which was on fire at Lincoln Avenue and Del Monte Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said at the time.
After extinguishing the flames, firefighters determined the fire was suspicious, Clawson said. A possible suspect was spotted leaving the area of the burning car.
About 45 minutes later, Martinez called police in Arcadia to report his 2008 Lexus IS 250 had been stolen from the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, according to Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo.
Investigators determined Martinez and Palacios had conspired to stage a fake car theft and torch the Lexus as part of a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, culminating in Friday’s arrests, Pasadena fire officials said.
According to county booking records, Martinez was released from custody a little more than three hours after his arrest on $50,000 bail. Palacios remained behind bars Friday in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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Neighbor helps police nab Arcadia burglary suspectl; two more sought

ARCADIA — Police jailed one alleged burglar and sought two more after a witness reported seeing the intruders in the backyard of a neighbor’s Foothill Boulevard home, officials said.
Kenneth Wayne James, 19, of Altadena was booked on suspicion of burglary following a neighborhood search, which kicked off shortly after noon in the 1100 block of west Foothill Boulevard, according to Arcadia police Lt. Bob Anderson.
The witness called police to report seeing three men he did not recognize in a neighbor’s backyard.
“Upon arrival, three male suspects ran from officers,” Anderson said. Their car was found in the driveway of the burglary victim’s home and seized as evidence.
James was found and arrested during a search of the area, Anderson said. The other two men remained at-large.
“Investigation reveals the suspects had forced a hole in the back door, however, no entry was made to the home because of the keen observations and action by the neighbor,” Anderson said.
James was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, officials added.

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St. Patrick’s Day weekend DUI crackdown: checkpoints planned in Whittier, Pico Rivera, Arcadia, Pasadena unincorporated West Covina

LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> Law enforcement officers throughout Los Angeles County are gearing up for checkpoints and extra patrols seeking intoxicated drivers this St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Checkpoints in Whittier, Pico Rivera, Arcadia, Pasadena and the unincorporated county area of West Covina are just five of the 13 checkpoints taking place this weekend in the county, along with 87 roving DUI patrols, according to representatives of the task force of law enforcement agencies collectively known as “Avoid the 100.”
“When you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, just be smart about it,” Glendora police Chief Tim Staab said in a written statement. “If you know you’re going to drink, whether with friends at a pub or attending a party designate a sober driver ahead of time or call a taxi to make sure you get home safely.”
According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person died every 53 minutes in a DUI-related crash in the United States in 2011.
“Most of these crashes involved drunk drivers who had blood-alcohol concentrations of .15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit of .08,” the task force statement said.
Whittier police are planning a checkpoint Friday night into Saturday morning within Whittier, according to Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson.
Pasadena police are also planning checkpoint Friday, as well as extra patrols to seek DUI drivers on St. Patrick’s Day, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
Arcadia police have announced plans to hold a checkpoint late Saturday into early Saturday within that city, Arcadia police Sgt. Brett Bourgeous said.
Sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera and California Highway Patrol officers in the unincorporated county area near West Covina will also hold a checkpoint late Saturday into Sunday, according to officials from each agency.
All of the checkpoints and additional patrols are being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Fire leads officials to marijuana grow house in Arcadia

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Arcadia police is investigating a marijuana “grow house” found Monday during an electrical fire call, Sgt. Jason Davis said.
Arcadia fire and police responded to a call at 8:49 a.m. about a transformer on fire at a residence in the 2400 block of Louise Avenue, Davis said.
When first responders arrived, they found a small roof fire caused by wires, officials said.
“In an attempt to locate persons inside the residence and get them to safety, officers made entry into the house and observed numerous marijuana plants in different stages of cultivation,” Davis said in a written statement. Officers then summoned detectives to the scene.
“Detectives searched the residence and recovered 2,489 live marijuana plants along with sophisticated growing equipment used for the cultivation of the crops,” Davis said.
Additionally, police found the home’s wiring had been rewired to bypass the Southern California Edison meter, effectively stealing it’s electricity from the utility, police said.
An SCE officials estimated between $16,000 and $20,000 worth of power had been stolen by the grow house, Davis said.
No one was at the home at the time of the fire, and no suspects had been arrested, police said.
Anyone with information, call the Arcadia Police Department at 626-574-5150. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-222-8477.

PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

- Venusse Navid and Brian Day

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