Brea : Torrance Couple Held for Jan. 29 Mall Robbery

A Torrance couple who allegedly robbed a Brea Mall store Jan. 29 were arrested Thursday afternoon after a SWAT team flushed them out of their home, police said.

Brea Police Lt. Bill Lentini said Michael Wayne Petersen, 23, was booked into Orange County Jail on a warrant charging him with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Petersen’s girlfriend, Connie Gay Smart, 22, also of Torrance, was booked on a warrant charging her with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Each was held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

On Jan. 29, a security guard at Nordstrom department store in Brea saw a man stealing jewelry valued at $180 and followed him out of the store. The man was stopped and told he was under arrest for burglary, Lentini said.

A woman then approached and brandished a gun, ordering security guards to release the man “or she would shoot them,” Lentini said. The couple then fled in a vehicle.


Witnesses got the license number and later allegedly identified the couple from photo lineups, Lentini said. He said police obtained arrest warrants Wednesday.

Brea police detectives went to a Torrance home Thursday afternoon to serve the arrest warrants, but Peterson and Smart allegedly refused to surrender, Lentini said. He said a SWAT team fired tear gas inside, and the couple came out. No shots were fired, and no one was injured Lentini said.