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.
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.
SAN MARINO >> A San Gabriel man stormed into a San Marino home Friday and tied up a woman at knifepoint during a daytime home-invasion robbery, authorities said.
Yongheng Huang, 24, was arrested on suspicion of charges including robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment shortly after the incident, which was reported just before 1 p.m. at a home in the 2500 block of Lombardy Road, San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
A woman who was working as a nanny at the home told police that a man, clad in a black jacket and mask, had entered the home through a back door and demanded money, San Marino Police Sgt. Robert Matthews said. But no money was found.
“The victim was threatened with a knife and tied,” according to the police statement. “(Huang) detained the victim until the homeowner arrived. Upon arrival, the suspect confronted the homeowner and again demanded money.
Police said the homeowner complied, and Huang fled with both U.S. and Chinese currency.
The woman was bound for more than an hour before the homeowner arrived home, Matthews said. Neither victim was hurt.
A San Marino police officer searching the area spotted Huang on foot just around the corner at California Boulevard and Alegria Place, officials said. He was detained and ultimately identified as the suspect in the home-invasion robbery.
Huang had a fixed-blade knife with him when arrested, as well as the money believed to have been stolen in the crime, police said.
The amount of money stolen was not available Friday.
Police had not discovered any link between the suspect and victims or a reason he may have targeted the Lombardy Road home, Matthews said, however detectives continued interviewing Huang Friday night.
Huang was booked on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, brandishing a knife, burglary, receiving stolen property, providing false information to a peace police officer and wearing a mask during the commission of a crime.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Huang was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court.
Protesters angered over home foreclosures gathered to picket in front of the San Marino home of a Wells Fargo executive Saturday, testing a recently adopted city ordinance banning such demonstrations.
The act of civil disobedience by about 70 protesters resulted in no arrests, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said. The crowd promptly dispersed once police announced via loudspeaker that the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly.
The protest, organized by the activist group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in partnership with other nonprofit organizations, took place in front of the home of Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sloan. The home has been picketed twice before, in October 2011 and in April 2012.
“Predatory lender, criminal offender,” shouted the protesters as they stood in the street holding signs and banners. “Wells Fargo, shame on you.”
The protest was held in violation of a city ordinance past late last year that prohibits picketing within 150 of a residential home, or within 75 feet of the property on which the home sits, whichever is greater.”
Wells Fargo was targeted for the protest, in part, because of accusations leveled by New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman that the bank, along with Bank of America, was failing to live up to its responsibilities under the terms of last year’s national mortgage settlement.
Schneiderman pointed to 210 complaints related to prompt processing of refinancing requests against Wells Fargo, and 129 against Bank of America.
Columbine High School mass shooting survivor Richard Castaldo of Los Angeles, who is paralyzed below the waist due to injuries suffered in the infamous attack, said his condominium is due to be auctioned off Aug. 12.
Initially financed through Wells Fargo, Castaldo said he fell behind in his mortgage due to a skyrocketing adjustable interest rate at the time his home went underwater in the housing market crash. The loan was then transferred to a third party lender, and attempts to modify the loan have been unsuccessful.
“I just want to know why Wells Fargo is not helping disabled people, when they received generous government bailouts,” Castaldo said.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Diane Rodriguez disputed the claims of the protesters, but said the bank recognized their right to expression.
“We respect the rights of people to be able to protest peacefully,” she said. “We appreciate the service of the San Marino Police Department for ensuring a safe event for everyone.”
“Generally speaking, we, as a company, have a very strong record of supporting homeowners who may be in some sort of distress or may be struggling to stay in their homes. We’ve invested heavily in our community to help those who need help along the way.”
The bank’s website states that Wells Fargo has provided new loans, both for purchases and refinances, to nearly 8.3 million customers since 2009, and forgiven more than $6.9 million of mortgage principal through 862,028 loan modifications.
But demonstrators such as ACE Community Organizer Peggy Means of Fontana called the Wells Fargo called Well Fargo management, “banker gangsters.”
We’re here to let the world know what Wells Fargo is doing, said Means.
“I don’t think they’re patriotic, because they’re doing everything they can to kill the American Dream,” she said.
She led a moment of silence for Ana Casas of South Gate, who died late last year during battles with cancer and cerebral palsy.
Casas was arrested in front of Sloan’s home in April 2012 when she refused police orders to leave before giving a mortgage payment to the banking official that the bank had refused to accept. Means said Casas provided a bold example to be followed.
“She fought to the very end,” Means said. “Because of Ana’s tenacity, her family is still in their home. They couldn’t break her spirit.”