Man robbed as he arrives home in San Marino; robbers force way into house


SAN MARINO >> Three men confronted and robbed a San Marino man at gunpoint as he arrived home early Wednesday, then forced their way into his home, where a family members was sleeping inside, officials said.
The crime unfolded about 12:20 a.m. in the 2000 block of Melville Drive, according to San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts.
Three robbers confronted the victim as he pulled into his driveway, he said. One of them brandished a handgun.
“(The gunman) pointed the firearm at the victim and demanded his wallet, keys and watch,” the sergeant said in a written statement.
Once the man handed the items over to the robbers, they ordered him to stay in his car.
“The suspects then used the victim’s keys to enter his residence,” Tebbetts said. “The victim used his cellphone to call 911 to report the incident, and stated his adult son was asleep in an upstairs bedroom.”
Police arrived within a minute and set up a search perimeter around the involved home, with help from neighboring police agencies, he said.
San Marino firefighters brought a ladder to the scene, which police used to rescue the adult son through a second story window, Tebbetts said.
After safely removing the resident from the home, officers searched the home but did not find the robbers.
Police described all three robbers as black men of about 20 years old, between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall. One wore a gray hooded sweatshirt and carried a black, semi-automatic handgun. The other two wore black hooded sweatshirts.
No vehicle was seen or heard in connection with the crime.
Anyone with information is urged to contact San Marino police Detective Garcia at 626-300-0726. Tips may also be sumbmitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Routine traffic stop leads to arrest of ex-con in San Marino


SAN MARINO >> What began as an ordinary traffic stop in San Marino on Wednesday led police to arrest an ex-felon on suspicion of burglary-, drug- and weapons-related offenses and recover property believed to have been stolen from homes in San Marino and Long Beach.
Thomas Gordon Dandurand, 37, of Riverside, was booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, being a convicted felon in possession of a stun gun and possession of an imitation firearm, according to San Marino police Sgt. Robert Cervantes.
Officers pulled a car for traffic violations about 1:14 a.m. at San Marino Avenue and Lorain Road, the sergeant said in a written statement.
While speaking to the driver, later identified as (Dandurand), an officer observed the vehicle was filled with miscellaneous items, including burglary tools,” he said. “Dandurand was subsequently arrested for the burglary tools and was transported to the Alhambra jail for booking.”
Inside Dandurand’s car, police found several laptop computers and tablet computers, drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, stun guns and an imitation firearm, Cervantes said. “Also located were items that had been stolen from homes in San Marino and Long Beach.”
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Dandurand was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information was asked to contact San Marino police Detective Garcia at 626-300-0726. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Long Beach trio accused of bringing children along during burglary in San Marino


SAN MARINO >> Two women and a man are facing burglary and child endangerment charges after they were caught in the middle of a San Marino burglary with four young “dirty and unfed” children in tow earlier this week, police said.
Police arrested the three suspects and placed the children, between 2 and 6 years old, in the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services following the alleged break-in, which took place about 1 p.m. Monday in the 2100 block of Oak Knoll Avenue, according to San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts.
A woman first called police to report her car, which was parked inside her locked garage, had been broken into, the sergeant said in a written statement. “The front driver-side window had been smashed and the center console ransacked,” he said.
When police arrived, the resident told them a window of the home which she had left closed was now open, and an air conditioning unit that had been shut off was running.
Officers used the resident’s key to enter the home, where they encountered two women, a man and four small children, Tebbetts said.
“They also recovered jewelry the suspects could not identify as theirs, mail, drug paraphernalia and property from the burglarized vehicle,” Tebbetts said.
“The children were between 2 and 6 years old and were dirty and unfed,” he said. “The four children were cleaned, fed and transported to the San Marino Police Department until social workers from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services responded to take custody of the children.”
Police determined one of the arrested women was the mother of three of the children, and the other was the mother of one, Cpl. Brian Wong said. The male suspect was described a one of the women’s boyfriend.
Arrested were Norina Ann Lopez, 26, Sereena Anita Lopez, 24, and Randy Fernando Andrade, 26, all of Long Beach, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Norina Lopez has pleaded not guilty to one charge of burglary and three charges of child endangerment, while Sereena Lopez has denied one count of burglary and one charge of child endangerment, and Andrade had pleaded not guilty to one count of burglary and two counts of child endangerment, Los Angeles County Superior Court records show. All three are scheduled to appear for hearings on June 13 in the Alhambra courthouse.
The suspects were being held in lieu of $330,000 bail, $150,000 bail and $80,000 bail, respectively.
Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact San Marino police Detective Patrice Garcia at 626-300-0726. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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12-year-old boy shocks another child with stun gun in San Marino; police investigating Arcadia store that sold the device

SAN MARINO >> Police are investigating after a 12-year-old boy bought a stun gun at an Arcadia store, then used it to shock another child at a San Marino school campus last weekend, officials said.
Police learned of the situation Saturday evening, when a parent reported that a 12-year-old boy had shocked another child with a stun gun about 2:30 p.m. Saturday near the lunch tables near the basketball courts at Henry E. Huntington Middle School in San Marino, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
“Officers contacted the parents of all the involved juveniles,” Tebbetts said. “Officers learned the juvenile who possessed the stun gun used it on another juvenile in a joking manner with no threatening intent.”
Meanwhile, the father of the boy who had the stun gun called police in Arcadia the following day to report his son had been sold the self-defense device, which are illegal for juveniles to possess, at a business in Arcadia.
The stun gun was purchased at As Seen On TV Products in the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, authorities said.
Police met with the store owner, who admitted selling stun gun, which was disguised as a cell phone, to the child,” according to Tebbetts. “However, she stated she stated she did not realize it was illegal to sell the stun gun to a minor.”
The investigation was ongoing, the sergeant said. “Appropriate charges, if any, against the juvenile and store owner will be determined after the case is reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Stun guns are generally legal for adults to possess in California, but prohibited for juveniles.

PHOTOS courtesy of the San Marino Police Department

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San Bernardino County robbery suspect arrested in San Marino


SAN MARINO >> Police checking on reports of a suspicious vehicle in San Marino early Thursday arrested two people, including a documented gang member with a prior history of robbery, in connection to a San Bernardino County robbery, authorities said.
Arthur Charles Moses, 21, of Los Angeles and Tisha Campbell, 23, of Los Angeles were booked on suspicion of crimes including robbery, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools following their 12:15 a.m. arrest in the 900 block of Huntington Drive, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
A witnesses called police to report seeing a 2015 Nissan Altima with paper license plates driving slowly through an alleyway with it’s brights on, he said. Officers responded and spoke with the driver, Campbell, and her passenger, Moses, “who stated they were lost,” the sergeant said.
“Upon further investigation, black ski masks, gloves and a crowbar were located under the passenger seat of the vehicle,” Tebbetts said. “Additionally, checkbooks and other property were located inside the vehicle that neither person could explain.”
Police soon learned the person whose name was printed on a checkbook found inside the car had been the victim of a recent robbery in San Bernardino County, police said.
Officials in San Bernardino County confirmed Moses, a documented Los Angeles gang member who was already wanted on a warrant for robbery, was believed to be connected to the crime.
According to county booking records, Moses was being held without bail at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance. Campbell was released from custody with a misdemeanor citation.

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Two men sought in takeover robbery at San Marino cell phone store


SAN MARINO >> Tow masked man carried out a takeover robbery at a San Marino cell phone store at gunpoint late Wednesday, police said.
The crime was reported about 8:20 p.m. at a Verizon Wireless store at 2116 Huntington Drive, according to San Marino police Sgt. Robert Matthews.
The two employees relayed that two men had entered the store, and at least one of them pulled a handgun.
“The employees were forced into the rear storage room and ordered to open the safe,” Matthews said in a written statement. “The suspects removed several Apple iPhones from the safe.”
The robbers left the business trough a rear door. No getaway car was seen.
No injuries were reported.
Police described the robbers as to men wearing black pants, black gloves, black hooded sweatshirts and bandanas covering their faces.
Anyone with information is urged to contact San Marino police Detective Brian Wong at 626-300-0719. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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San Marino burglary suspects arrested with help from remote home surveillance camera


SAN MARINO >> Police arrested two would-be burglars on Thursday night after a San Marino resident saw them trying to break into his home via a remote surveillance camera, officials said.
Police first received a report of the attempted break-in in the 1200 block of Adair Street about 9 p.m., San Marino police officials said in a written statement. A resident called to report two unknown men were trying to get in his home through the back door.
“The resident was not home at the time, but was looking at his surveillance camera online,” according to the statement.
Officers arrived on scene in about two minutes. They spotted a silver Jeep parked across the street from the involved house.
South Pasadena, Pasadena, Alhambra, and Monterey Park police helped their counterparts in San Marino cordon off a search area.
Officers found the two suspects hiding inside the Jeep and took them into custody.
“Pry marks were located at the back door,” according to the statement. Police searched the home but found no additional suspects.
Milton Sandoval Prada, 47, of Los Angeles and Julio Rojas, 46, of Los Angeles were booked on suspicion of attempted burglary and possession of burglary tools.
According to officials and county booking records, both men were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail pending their arraignment hearings, scheduled Tuesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, officials said.

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Woman accused of embezzling nearly $200K from her elderly employer in South Pasadena

SAN MARINO >> San Marino police arrested a woman on suspicion of embezzling nearly $200,000 from her elderly employer over the past two years, authorities said.
Rebecca Diaz, 44, of Los Angeles is accused of embezzlement and grand theft following her arrest, which took place just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles county booking records.
Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services officials contacted San Marino police regarding possible financial elder abuse earlier in the afternoon, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
The victim, a San Marino man in his 70s, employed Diaz as the account manager at his South Pasadena-based agricultural business, Detective Brian Wong said.
“The initial report claimed there were abnormally large amounts of money being deducted from the victim’s bank account,” Tebbetts said.
“Further investigation revealed (Diaz) had been making cash advances and purchases using the victim’s business credit card and business checking account,” Tebbetts said. “It is believed the suspect embezzled over $195,000.00 in just over two years.”
Diaz had worked for the victim even longer, and detectives continued looking into the possibility of additional theft, Wong said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wong a 626-300-0719.

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San Marino police jail San Gabriel man in large-scale mail, ID theft bust

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SAN MARINO >> San Marino police jailed a San Gabriel man this on suspicion of identity theft, mail theft and other crimes after catching him with a car filled with hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, checks, identification cards, credit cards, and other identity-theft related materials, police said.
Joseph Kamel, 40, was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail Saturday following his arrest on Thursday evening, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Investigators had been seeking Kamel after he and his car were seen in connection with at least two mail or package thefts in the city dating back to May,San Marino police Sgt. Robert Matthews said.
After spotting Kamel driving through the city, an officers summoned backup and followed him into the 1500 block of Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena, where they pulled the car over and detained Kamel without a struggle, police said. He was alone in the black, 2011 Chevrolet Camaro.
“A subsequent investigation revealed Kamel to be in possession of a U.S. Postal service master key, hundreds of pieces of mail addressed to individual persons and businesses across Los Angeles County, over 100 checks that were addressed to other victims, banking statements, U.S. Passports, California Identification cards and Driver Licenses, credit card encoding and skimming devices, and ledgers containing personal and banking information of many other potential victims,” Sgt. Timothy Tebbetts said in a written statement.
0918_nws_psn-l-smarrest2Some of the people whose information was recovered from Kamel’s car had already been the victims of identity theft, Matthews said.
It was yet to be determined whether the case would be turned over to federal officials for prosecution, though it appeared likely, Matthews said. Mail theft is a federal crime.
Thursday’s arrest was the latest in series of arrests by area police for alleged large-scale mail and identity theft schemes.
Police in South Pasadena arrested a Highland Park woman on Sept. 3 after finding her driving through town with a treasure trove of stolen mail, documents, mail keys and other theft-related items. Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, is facing federal charges in the case.
And San Marino police in May arrested a mother and daughter for allegedly driving around with stolen mail, a U.S. Postal Service master key and methamphetamine, police said at the time. Estela Castaneda, 48, of Huntington Park and Elizabeth Castaneda, 22, of Rosemead, also face federal charges.
The two San Marino cases appear to be linked, officials said. Kamel posted bail for Elizabeth Castaneda following her arrest in May, officials said. Their relationship was unclear Saturday.
Kamel is scheduled to make his first appearance Tuesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, records show.

PHOTOS courtesy of the

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‘Palm Tree Bandits’ linked to violent bank takeover robberies in Arcadia, San Marino, Santa Monica

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Recent takeover robberies at banks in Arcadia, San Marino and Santa Monica have been linked to a pair of serial robbers the FBI has dubbed, “The Palm Tree Bandits,” authorities said Friday.
The robbers, who earned their moniker due to baseball caps emblazoned with palm tree logos they wore during the crimes, struck Thursday at a First Bank branch, 848 W. Duarte Road in Arcadia, as well as July 28 at a One West Bank at 900 Huntington Drive in San Marino, and July 18 at a Banc of California at 2635 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, FBI officials said in a written statement.
The FBI described the crimes as “violent takeover robberies.”
0806_NWS_PSN-L-BANDITS2“They are considered armed and dangerous,” according to the FBI statement. “At least one suspect brandishes a handgun during the robberies.”
In Thursday’s robbery in Arcadia, the robbers donned surgical masks, latex gloves and orange construction vests during the heist. In other robberies, the robbers’ faces were uncovered and recorded by bank surveillance cameras.
Both robbers were armed with handguns during the Arcadia crime, Lt. Tom Cullen said.
In the San Marino robbery, only one of the robbers was seen with a gun, San Marino police Detective Brian Wong said. The suspect fled the area in a red SUV.
0806_NWS_PSN-L-BANDITS4The FBI has teamed with Arcadia, San Marino and Santa Monica police in the investigation.
Officials described the bandits as two black men between 20 and 30 years old.
One is about 5 feet 9 inches tall and of thin build. The second robber is of heavy build.
Anyone with information is asked to contact local police, or the FBI’s 24-hour Los Angeles-area tip line at 310-477-6565.

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PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

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