SAN MARINO >> A woman and her daughter will be spending Mother’s Day together, behind bars, after police caught them driving through San Marino with mail stolen from Arcadia, along with a U.S. Postal Service master key and methamphetamine, authorities said.
Estela Castaneda, 48, of Huntington Park and daughter Elizabeth Castaneda, 22, of Rosemead, were arrested just after midnight Friday following what began as a routine traffic stop for a traffic violation in the 1300 block of Bradbury Road, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers soon noticed that the driver, Estela Castaneda, and her daughter had pieces of mail and checks that had been stolen in Arcadia, along with a U.S. Postal Service lock and master key, or “arrow key,” San Marino police Detective Sergeant Timothy Tebbetts said in a written statement.
As police were booking the women into jail at the Alhambra Police Department, jail guards found the mother hiding “a substance resembling methamphetamine,” the sergeant said.
Police booked the mother and daughter on suspicion of crimes including identity theft, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine and possession of contraband inside a jail, officials said.
“The mail appears to be stolen out of the city of Arcadia,” Tebbetts said. “San Marino Police are working with Postal Inspectors to locate additional victims. U.S. Postal Inspectors are seeking to file federal charges on both suspects.”
Estela Castaneda was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail, while Elizabeth Castaneda was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, records show. Both were scheduled for arraignment hearings Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Alhambra branch.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Tebbetts at 626-300-0722. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SAN MARINO >> Police jailed a wanted Alhambra man and his girlfriend after the man fled from a stolen car, which contained drugs and a gun, in San Marino early Sunday, police said.
The series of events began when police in San Marino pulled over a car in their city, according to Alhambra police officials, who assisted San Marino police.
“The male driver fled on foot, leaving his girlfriend behind inside the car,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement. “Unfortunately for the fleeing suspect, he left his driver license in the car.”
Officers detained the female suspect and discovered a gun and drugs inside the car, which had been reported stolen, officials said. It was also determined that the fleeing man had several outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Police began keeping watch over the male suspect’s home in Alhambra, suspecting he may be trying to make his way there. An officer spotted the man walking down the street.
“The officer was able to sneak up on the subject and detain him,” according to the Alhambra police statement. “The subject was identified as the same person who fled from the San Marino officer.”
The suspects identities were not available Sunday. San Marino police, who are handling the investigation, could not be reached for comment.
SAN MARINO >> Police Wednesday arrested an 18-year-old Monterey Park man on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and approaching students near San Marino High School, officials said.
Kwannam Magnus Ho was booked on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, San Marino police Detective Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
Police received a call from officials at San Marino High School about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday reporting that an Asian man between 18 and 21 had identified himself to several students as a police officer, “wearing a handgun and displaying a badge,” Tibbetts said.
“As the suspect was talking to the students, one of them thinking quickly, took out his cell phone and took a picture of the suspect and suspect’s vehicle,” the sergeant said.
Armed with the information provide by the students, police found and arrested Ho without a struggle just before noon Wednesday outside his home in the 1600 block of Loma Verde Street in Monterey park, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“A search of the suspect’s vehicle resulted in the recover of a replica Sig Sauer firearm in the center console, a replica “police” badge and a FBI hat on the dashboard,” Tibbetts said.
Ho had been driving a white Toyota Highlander, Police Chief John Incontro said.
When approaching the students, he told them he was patrolling the area and asked them if they were involved in drug activity, Incontro said.
The investigation into Ho’s actions and motives remained ongoing, he added.
Ho was booked at the Alhambra Police Department jail, where he was being held in lieu of $2,500 bail on a misdemeanor allegation pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Police were checking with other police agencies to determined whether similar incidents had been reported in other jurisdictions, the chief said.
Anyone who may have had a suspicious encounter with Ho is encouraged to contact Sgt. Tebbetts at 626-300-0722. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SAN MARINO >> Police, aided by a good Samaritan, arrested a man they say robbed an elderly woman of her cell phone on a bus Wednesday afternoon.
Officers jailed Kenneth Raymond Collins, 18, of Los Angeles on suspicion of robbery following the alleged heist, which unfolded about 4:45 p.m. at Huntington Drive and San Gabriel Boulevard, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
As Collins was exiting a Metro bus, he grabbed a cell phone from an elderly woman also riding the bus, police said. He ran down an alley and headed west on Huntington Drive.
“A Good Samaritan saw Collins flee from the bus, followed by the elderly lady who was yelling for help,” Tebbetts said. “The Good Samaritan followed Collins in his vehicle on Huntington Drive, then chased Collins on foot until officers arrived.”
Police found Collins hiding in a residential backyard along Van Dyke Road and took him into custody without a struggle, officials said.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.
No further details were available Thursday.
SAN MARINO >> A San Marino Fire Department crew delivered an impatient baby boy inside his parents’ car early Wednesday, officials said.
The mother and father tried to rush to the hospital when it became apparent their son would wait no longer to greet the world, San Marino Fire Department Capt. Dominic Petta said. They called 9-1-1 at 6:10 a.m., bringing a fire engine and an ambulance to their home in the area of Huntington and West drives within five minutes.
“They couldn’t make it out of the driveway,” Petta said.
With Firefighter-Paramedic Brian Campbell taking the lead, rescuers delivered the eager newborn in the passenger seat of the family car and had the mother and child on their way to a hospital within six minutes of their arrival, Petta said.
Only 14 minutes elapsed from the time the 9-1-1 call was placed to the time the mother and baby arrived at the hospital. Both were doing well.
“I commend the medics on scene for their outstanding work,” Petta said.
Both parents also did “a wonderful job,” he said. The father came out of the emergency room to thank firefighters and shake their hands at the hospital.
San Marino police provided traffic control during the incident, police officials said.
“That was a pretty neat experience,” Petta said. “It’s not everyday we get to bring a life into the world.”
LOS ANGELES >> A prolific serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” who was arrested following an ill-fated heist in South Pasadena Thursday has been charged in federal court, officials said Saturday.
Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga is accused of eight bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, as well as numerous other incidents of “casing,” spanning Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties since June 10, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
His alleged crime spree came to an end Thursday after he tried, unsuccessfully to rob a South Pasadena bank before being captured minutes later by police in neighboring San Marino, according to South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Friday charging Noriega with the South Pasadena crime.
“However, the investigation is continuing and Noriega potentially faces additional charges,” FBI officials said in a written statement.
Crime attributed to the serial bandit have been reported in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco, Fontana and Beaumont.
The FBI labeled the then-unidentified robber the Bluto Bandit due to a black fake beard he wore during the crimes, reminding investigators of the villain in the Popeye comic strips, Eimiller said.
The Bluto Bandit’s tactic, or modus operandi, was to pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
“In some robberies, the note advised the teller to remain calm; to remove the money within 15 or 30 seconds; or to avoid deploying security devices,” according to the FBI statement. “The suspect generally did not talk during the robberies.”
When San Marino police apprehended Noriega following a brief car chase Thursday, officers found evidence linking him to the crime spree, including bank robbery demand notes, officials said.
He was still wearing his trademark fake beard, Robledo added.
Noriega appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Friday and was remanded to federal custody pending trial, officials said.
Bank surveillance photo courtesy of the FBI.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested a fake-bearded serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” Thursday following a failed heist in South Pasadena, which officials alleged was the seventh crime in his multi-county crime spree.
San Marino police chased down and arrested Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga following the 12:30 p.m. failed bank robbery in South Pasadena, according to San Marino police Sgt. Timothy Tebbetts.
“The suspect was wanted by the FBI for at least six prior bank robberies and attempted robberies throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties,” he said.
South Pasadena police first responded to Chase bank, 1305 Fair Oaks Ave., after the robber arrived and passed a teller a note demanding cash, South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo said.
“For unknown reasons, the suspect fled the bank without receiving money, leaving behind the demand note. A bank employee saw the suspect get into a white four door sedan and flee Southbound on Fair Oaks Avenue,” Robledo said.
San Marino police spotted the suspect’s vehicle driving in the area of Huntington Drive and Bradbury Road, Tebbetts said. Noriega led police on a chase before eventually stopping at Mission Drive and Hackett Avenue in Rosemead, where he was taken into custody.
The Bluto Bandit earned his moniker, taken from the villain in the Popeye comic strip, due to the false beard he wore during his crimes, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
She described the Bluto Bandit as the “most prolific” serial bank robber currently operating in the Southland.
Previous robberies and incidents of suspect “casing” attributed to the bandit occurred in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, Unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco and Fontana
“(Noriega) was still wearing the fake black beard when he was arrested,” Robledo said.
Generally, the robber would target Chase banks branches and pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
The “Bluto Bandit” is pictured in this bank surveillance photo during a June 16, 2015, robbery at a Chase bank branch in Duarte. (Courtesy of the FBI.)
ARCADIA >> Police and worried family members have asked the public to keep an eye out for a 16-year-old San Marino High School student believed to have run away after being dropped off to take her SAT exams in Arcadia Saturday.
Mira Hu was last seen at Arcadia High School at 7:30 a.m. when her parents dropped her off for an SAT exam, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said in a written statement. Her parents could not find her when they returned to the Arcadia campus to pick her up.
“A short time later she sent a message to her brother indicating that she was running away because she was overwhelmed by school and the exam,” Crowther said. “Preliminary information indicates she may be traveling to central or northern California.”
Hu is Chinese, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 95 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black jacket and blue jeans, and she was carrying a large navy-colored bag.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5121, or their local law enforcement agency. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department
SAN MARINO >> Police shot a dog in a residential backyard while searching for a home-invasion robber in San Marino early Thursday, officials said.
The robber also stole the victim’s SUV in the 7:45 a.m. incident in the 900 block of Winston Avenue, according to San Marino police officials.
A woman estimated to be in her 30s working as a nanny at the home had just returned to the house after dropping children off at school, Police Chief John Incontro said.
“The suspect had ransacked the home and made additional demands for property,” police said in a written statement. “The victim then ran to the second floor where she locked herself in a room and called 9-1-1. The victim could hear the suspect yelling at her to get off the phone.”
Officers rushing to help made their way through the backyard of a home facing Sierra Madre Boulevard when they were confronted by a large dog, police said.
“One officer shot two rounds, one striking the dog.”
Police did not identify the involved officer.
Officers found the frightened victim still hiding upstairs, Incontro said. The woman’s Mercedes-Benz SUV was gone. It was unclear what was stolen from the house.
Investigators found the SUV abandoned on a Ventura Boulevard offramp of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles, Incontro said. The suspect remained at-large.
The chief added that the city has offered to pay the veterinary bills for the wounded dog.
After two surgeries and the successful removal of a bullet, the 6-year-old pit bull-terrier-boxer mix, named “Wheezy,” was expected to recover, said Rana Abdelal, a member of the family that owns the animal. One of the bullets grazed the dog in the head, while the other struck Wheezy in the chest.
Though saddened by the dog’s injury, Abdelal said they were not angry with the police.
“Because of the circumstances, we understand,” she said.
“They came, they apologized and they said they’d take care of it,” Abdelal said.
Authorities described the intruder as a black man, 28 to 30 years old, wearing a blue and black shirt and dark pants. He also wore a fanny pack.
PHOTOS: (Above) Photo of Wheezy the dog – courtesy. (Below) A San Marino police officer talks to neighborhood residents after an officer shot and wounded a family dog while responding to a home-invasion robbery in the 900 block of Winston Avenue early Thursday, Feb, 19, 2015.
SAN MARINO >> Police arrested a one woman and sought two more suspects — one of them armed with a handgun — after a they allegedly ran from a crash in a residential San Marino neighborhood, authorities said.
The crash took place about 10:30 a.m. on Virginia Road, near Encino Drive, San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
A Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling south on the curving road when it crossed the center line and struck a four-door sedan heading north, Sgt. Richard Ward said.
Speed appeared to be factor, the sergeant said. “A couple witnessed placed the truck well above the speed limit.”
The woman driving the sedan was taken to a hospital with apparently minor injuries, officials said. But the driver of the truck, along with a man and a woman riding as passengers, ran from the wrecked pickup truck.
The woman, later identified as 35-year-old Sabrina Lynette Slaven of Pacoima, was quickly captured, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records. She was booked on suspicion of possession of burglary tools and interfering with police.
“The two male suspects were last seen running northbound on Virginia Road out of sight,” according to the police statement. “One of the male suspects was seen carrying a black handgun.”
Pasadena, South Pasadena and Alhambra police joined San Marino police in a yard-to-yard search, with help from two police dogs, but the two fleeing men were not found.
Police described both suspects as Latino men between 20 and 30 years old, with shaved heads and of medium build. One stood about 5 feet 6 inches tall and the other stood about 5 feet 10 inches tall. One wore a white T-shirt and the other wore a red sweatshirt, though it was not clear which suspect wore which article of clothing.
Police recovered alleged burglary tools from the crashed truck, along with a lawn mower and a chain saw, Ward said. Detectives were looking into the possibility the machines had been stolen.
Anyone with information was asked to contact San Marino police at 626-300-0720.