Bandit sought in bank robberies in South Pasadena, Burbank

Police and federal agents are hunting for a man who robbed banks in South Pasadena and Burbank on Wednesday afternoon.
The bandit first carried out a heist in Burbank about 4:20 p.m. before turning up at another bank branch 15 miles away in south Pasadena 45 minutes later, according to Burbank and South Pasadena police officials.
In both crimes, the robber handed tellers notes demanding cash, officials said. No weapons were seen during the robberies.
The first crime occurred at the U.S. Bank, 1750 W. Olive Ave., Burbank police Sgt. Derek Green said in a written statement.
“He approached a bank teller and passed a note demanding cash, threatening to harm people inside the bank if his demands were not met,” Green said. “Fearing for his safety and the safety of others, the bank teller provided the suspect with the money.”
Police said the robber was believed to have fled the area in a black Ford Flex with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The bandit then showed up shortly after 5 p.m. at a Wells Fargo branch, 1000 Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena.
Again, the robber handed a teller a note demanding cash, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
The female teller handed over several thousand dollars, and the robber was last seen exiting the bank.
Police described the serial robbers a man, possibly of Armenian descent, of about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds. He wore a white long-sleeve shirt, a gray baseball cap with a white stripe along the brim and aviator-style sunglasses. He had a short beard and mustache.
The Ford Flex seen in connection with the Burbank robbery was black, with a silver top, a moonroof and aluminum paneling on the sides.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Burbank police detectives at 818-238-3210 or South Pasadena police at 626-403-7270. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Burbank Police Department.

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South Pasadena burglary suspects arrested following crash in Alhambra

SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested two South Pasadena burglary suspects after they crashed their getaway car in Alhambra on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The incident began about 3:15 p.m. when a witness called police to reports a break-in at a home in the 1000 block of Milan Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
Responding officers caught sight of a vehicle matching the suspect description driving away from the area, he said. As officers attempted to catch up with the car, but before they tried to pull it over, the car crashed into another car at Fremont Avenue and Mission Road in Alhambra, the sergeant said.
Both suspect were arrested at the crash scene, he said. One complained of pain and was examined at a hospital prior to booking.
A man at the wheel of the car the fleeing suspects struck was unhurt, Louie added.
The suspects’ identities were not available pending the booking process.

PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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Man and woman from Bakersfield accused of San Gabriel Valley mail, ID theft spree


SOUTH PASADENA >> Police in South Pasadena arrested a man and woman from Bakersfield on suspicion of stealing packages, mail, credit cards and other items on Wednesday.
Corey Ryan Bihm, 26, and Lauren Helstrom, 29, were booked on suspicion of residential burglary, grand theft, conspiracy and identity theft, according to South Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police were first summoned to a Vons market at 1129 Fair Oaks Avenue about 5:30 p.m. for a report of shoplifting, South Pasadena police Cpl. Craig Phillips said in a written statement.
“During the shoplifting investigation, officers found dozens of Amazon packages not addressed to either subject inside the vehicle,” Phillips said. Police soon confirmed the packages, valued at $2,700, has been stolen from the front porch of a home in Arcadia.
The suspects’ rental moving van was littered with “bags full of mail,” as well as dozens of stolen credit cards and many items with price tags still attached, according to Phillips. Police determined some of the mail had been stolen in South Pasadena and Arcadia.
Officers also recovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia from the suspects, he said. The moving van used by the suspects was later determined to have been stolen.
According to booking records, Bihm was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Booking information for Helstrom was not available Thursday afternoon.

PHOTOS courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department

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UPDATED: Social media threat prompts lockdown at South Pasadena High School; student detained


SOUTH PASADENA >> Authorities placed South Pasadena High School on lockdown Friday while they investigated a shooting threat posted on social media, police said.
A student saw an image on the photo and video-sharing app Snapchat threatening gun violence at the high school, 1401 Fremont Ave.
The student reported the threats to officials shortly after the school day began, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
“The suspect was identified as a 17-year-old male student,” police said in a written statement. “As a precaution, the school was placed on a modified lockdown and officers were posted at the school.”
“Officers responded to his residence to locate him, but were unsuccessful,” according to the statement. “Additional information was obtained as to the suspect’s whereabouts and he was eventually contacted by phone.”
The teen went to the police station, where he was taken into custody later in the morning, officials said.
The lockdown had been lifted and the campus had resumed normal operations by noon.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Pasadena police detectives at 626-403-7280.

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Caught on camera: Porch pirate pilfers package from South Pasadena home

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Police are seeking man who was caught on camera stealing a large package, which contained a trampoline, from the fron porch of a South Pasadena home on Wednesday.
The theft took place just before 12:10 p.m. at a home in the 1400 block of Milan Avenue, South Pasadena police Detective Richard Lee said in a written statement.
A man wearing a utility vest arrived at the home in a silver, four-door sedan and parked in the victim’s driveway, Lee said.
Home surveillance cameras rolled as the thief walked up to the victim’s porch and draged away a large package, which contained a trampoline, Lee said. He then loaded it into his car and drove off.
Police described the package thief as a Latino man between 30 and 35 years old, with brown hair and brown mustache. He wore a yellow utility vest, a black shirt, blue jeans and black-and-white Converse sneakers.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Pasadena police detectives at 626-403-7280. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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PHOTOS courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department

 

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UPDATED: Suspect wounded in South Pasadena police shooting, arrested following standoff

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Police shot and wounded a suspect in the middle of a home burglary as two women who lived in the house hid in an upstairs bathroom early Saturday, authorities said.
The incident began about 4:25 a.m. when a 48-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter realized there was an intruder in their house in the 1300 block of Huntington Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Upon seeing the suspect, the women fled to the upstairs bathroom where they barricaded themselves from the approaching suspect,” according to the statement. “The suspect attempted to break through the bathroom door in an attempt to gain entry. When his attempts failed, the suspect proceeded to ransack the bottom level of the residence. The mother called 9-1-1.”
Officers rushed to the home and made their way inside, officials said.
“As the officers walked up the stairs towards the second floor, they were confronted by the suspect,” the statement said. “It was at this time that an officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect then fled from the officers towards a bedroom where he proceeded to barricade himself.”
It was unclear what prompted police to open fire on the suspect, or whether he was armed at the time.
Police cordoned off the home and used a ladder to rescue the women through the window of the bathroom in which they’d been hiding.
A sheriff’s SWAT team responded to deal with the barricaded suspect. Officials from the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau announced the suspect was in custody about 7 a.m.
“While in custody, it was discovered that the suspect had been struck in the shoulder by gunfire,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The 48-year-old suspect was treated at hospital before being booked on suspicion of burglary. His name was not released Sunday.
South Pasadena police deferred comment to sheriff’s officials, who traditionally investigate officer-involved shootings involving Los Angeles County police agencies.
The residents of the home were unharmed, and no police officials were injured during the incident, sheriff’s officials said.

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PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau

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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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South Pasadena hardware store employee pepper-sprayed, stabbed by robber; suspect jailed


SOUTH PASADENA >> A repeat convicted felon pepper-sprayed and stabbed a hardware store employee who tried to stop him from shoplifting Saturday evening, police said.
Officers arrested Jay William Brewer, 48, of Sylmar on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after the incident, which unfolded about 8 p.m. at Orchard Supply Hardware, 452 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena police Sgt. Shannon Robledo said.
An employee of the store saw Brewer set off the store’s anti-theft alarm while leaving the store, so he followed him outside and confronted him about the alleged theft, the sergeant said.
“In an attempt to escape, the suspect sprayed the employee with pepper spray,” Robledo said in a written statement. “The employee was disoriented for a moment, but continued after the suspect.”
“During a second confrontation, the suspect produced a knife, stabbing the employee in the abdomen before fleeing,” according to the sergeant.
The victim, a man in his 50s, was taken to a hospital with “significant, but non-life-threatening” injuries, he added.
Officers found Brewer hiding in the area and arrested him without a struggle. They recovered the pocket knife believed to have been used in the stabbing, as well as other pieces of evidence from Brewer.
No property from the store was recovered, and it was unclear what the suspect may have stolen from the business, Robledo said.
Brewer has a lengthy criminal history, including past convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary, possession of a dangerous weapon, criminal threats, vehicle theft, petty theft and violating parole.
According to Los Angeles County booking records,, Brewer was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Alhambra Police Department jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Anyone with information is urged to contact South Pasadena police at 626-403-7297.

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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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South Pasadena police, fire departments host open house this weekend

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Police and firefighters are inviting the public to enjoy a day of festivities, demonstrations, classic car show and more as they host the South Pasadena Police and Fire Department Open House this Sunday.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pasadena Police Department, 1422 Mission Street, as well as at the neighboring South Pasadena Fire Department, 817 Mound Ave., city officials said in a written statement.
Police canine demonstrations, fire department demonstrations and helicopter landings and fly-overs are planned, along with child fingerprinting, a classic car show, informational booths and workshops, giveaways and raffles.
For more information, including a schedule of events, visit www.southpasadenaca.gov, or contact Detective Richard Lee at 626-403-7285.

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