The Santa Ana Police Department is appealing to the public for information or any other assistance that can help them locate two men who have been on a prolific crime spree over the last few months.
The suspects in question are two masked bandits who have stolen thousands of dollars from the cash registers and safes of various 7-Eleven stores around Santa Ana. The robbers have been known to show up at the same location more than once in a single day.
How the Masked Bandits Operate
According to statements made to the media by police officers and detectives working on the case, the two robbers sometimes work together; however, on some occasions only one of them has approached the cash register of a 7-Eleven store.
The modus operandi of these two suspects is virtually the same each time they commit a robbery: they wear hoodies, jackets, baseball caps, surgical masks, and bandanas. Invariably, they make threats that indicate they are armed and prepared to use their firearms.
Two of the suspects seem to carry out the bulk of the crime, which consists of walking up to the store counter and announcing that they are armed. In the 11 times that these robberies have been committed, the clerks only recall seeing a handgun fully displayed twice; the criminals are more likely to briefly flash the top of the weapon or go grab it inside the pocket.
Cash and Lottery Tickets
A couple of recent arrests by Southern California law enforcement agents appear to be connected to a store robbery crew operating in Orange County.
In late April, officers from the Santa Ana Police Department arrested a man who seemed to have been casing a convenience store as well as distracting the clerks on duty, one of whom remembered watching a television news broadcast about the string of robberies.
The aforementioned clerk called the police and gave a description of the suspect, who had walked out of the store and was hanging around the parking lot. Officers arrived to make an arrest; however, four stores were robbed later that night, apparently by the same crew.
Detectives were also able to make the arrest because the suspects have a preference for robbing scratch-off lottery tickets. In one case, a man who is believed to be an accomplice walked into a liquor store in Westminster to cash in a lottery ticket; he apparently got nervous and fled in a Chevy Malibu. Investigators believe that this getaway car is sometimes driven by a woman.
The robberies started in October 2015, and they have taken place across Orange County. The heists are mostly confined to convenience stores and gas stations. In late March, police officers in Garden Grove arrested a 42-year old man who matched the descriptions of robbers in a few cases, and who also fled from a store robbery in a 2012 Chevy Malibu.
Police officers assigned to these cases think that this latest arrest is connected to the robbery crew operating in Orange County. It is possible that members of the crew split up their territory in such a way that their homes are not located in the same city where they commit their crimes. The suspect who was arrested in Garden Grove, for example, had a Fountain Valley address, where police found a couple of pistols and one shotgun.