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20 Robberies of Women in Valley May Be Related

Times Staff Writer

As many as 20 armed robberies that netted more than $250,000 in jewelry, in which motorists in expensive cars were followed to their hillside homes in the San Fernando Valley and held up, appear to be related, Los Angeles police said Thursday.

The victims have mostly been women between 40 and 70 years old who were driving alone, usually in Mercedes-Benzes, police said. The robbers took cash and jewelry after the victims had parked at their homes, police said. No one has been injured, police said.

The robberies have occurred from Sherman Oaks to Woodland Hills but primarily in Encino neighborhoods, police said.

“It is creating a great deal of anxiety in the community,” Police Lt. William Gaida said.

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On Dec. 30, a woman was followed to her Encino home and robbed after leaving a nail salon, where she and other customers had been discussing the robberies, Detective Randy Fredrickson said.

The victim said she frequently looked in her rear-view mirror and, at one point, thought she was being followed, Fredrickson said. However, when it appeared that the car turned off, she continued home, he said. But after parking in her garage, she was robbed by a gunman, he said.

Police said they are investigating whether five similar robberies in West Los Angeles, including one where a victim was shot and wounded, are connected.

A man and woman arrested Wednesday in another series of robberies, in which victims were followed home from Studio City, are not suspected in the hillside cases, police said.

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The Valley crimes appear to be the work of three sets of robbers, police said. However, the method used has been so similar that investigators believe that the robberies may be linked.

“They may know each other. They may come from the same neighborhood. They may be using the same fence” to sell stolen jewelry, Detective Chris Biller said.

In each robbery, the victim was followed by two men from areas near Sepulveda Boulevard and Mulholland Drive or from areas along Ventura Boulevard, police said.

Police said the robbers struck on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

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