Cash Registers Deal Robber a Ringing Defeat

Times Staff Writer

A well-dressed robber who couldn't figure out how to open the cash registers at two fast-food outlets got smart on his third try Sunday morning and simply ordered a North Hollywood doughnut shop owner to hand over the money, Los Angeles police said.

In each instance, the robber pointed what seemed to be a gun held under his light-blue suit and fled in a late-1970s gray or silver-blue Cadillac, police said. His take from the third robbery was about $70.

The first attempt occurred shortly after 9 a.m. when the man walked into California Donuts in the 13300 block of Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys with a handgun partially hidden by his jacket, Police Sgt. Christopher Vasquez said.

Owner Sopphirrith Lor ran to the back room, either to hide or escape, Vasquez said. The robber tried unsuccessfully to open the register and left, he said.

'This Is a Holdup'

About an hour later, the man went to Perry's Mexican Food in the 12500 block of Roscoe Boulevard in Sun Valley and said, "This is a holdup," according to owner Oliver Nichols.

"I told him the money's in the register," Nichols, 61, said. "I walked back to the cook and told him to push the button because I have an alarm system."

The robber looked confused when the computerized register wouldn't open, and he left empty-handed, Nichols said.

Finally, at Fresh 'n Fancy Donuts in North Hollywood, the man walked in about 10:40 a.m. and yelled: "Get all your money for me! I'm going kill you if you don't give me all your money," recalled the owner, who asked that his name not be used.

The 47-year-old owner handed over the money in his register--about $70.

He was able to jot down the license-plate number of the robber's car, which was parked in front of the shop on Laurel Canyon Boulevard near Roscoe Boulevard.

The owner, whose first wife and two children were killed by the Khmer Rouge, fled Cambodia in 1975. He repaired televisions and his second wife worked as a waitress, saving money to buy the doughnut shop in 1982. He said the store has been struck by thieves about four times a year since then.

"It's hard to stay in small business," he said quietly. "But I still believe there are a lot of good people in this country."

Police described the robber as a white male, 35 to 40 years old, about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds.

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