A 22-year-old suspect in a $184,000 Valencia jewelry store robbery was arrested Tuesday when sheriff’s deputies found him hiding in the closet of a relative’s mobile home in Saugus.
Tony E. Perrone was one of two men disguised with wigs and false beards who threatened to explode a package of dynamite if the clerk of a Zales store on McBean Parkway did not fill a bag with jewelry, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Ed Chenal said. The robbery occurred at 10:45 a.m. Feb. 17.
Sgt. Gregory Palmieri said Perrone was arrested Feb. 18, but managed to convince investigators that he was not directly involved in the robbery. He helped authorities recover about $81,400 worth of jewelry and was released on $6,000 bond.
Further investigation convinced detectives that Perrone was a key figure in the robbery. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
Perrone eluded arrest, and Palmieri said investigators now believe that he had been hiding in Mexico. Investigators said they fear that he sold the still-missing jewelry there.
Perrone was being held on suspicion of robbery Tuesday night at the Sheriff’s Department’s Santa Clarita Valley station. Another man, Ronald Walker, of Saugus, was arrested Feb. 27 on a robbery charge and remains free on $50,000 bail.
Palmieri said members of the Sheriff’s Department’s COBRA team began watching the trailer Monday after receiving a tip that Perrone might be hiding there.
On Tuesday afternoon, they saw Walker enter the trailer. A short time later, Perrone’s girlfriend, Julia Belding, 20, left the trailer followed by Walker, Palmieri said.
She was stopped for questioning and told deputies that Perrone was in the trailer. Belding was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting a felon and being an accessory to the robbery. Walker was not rearrested.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s patrol division, COBRA team and narcotics squads knocked on the door but heard no response and forced their way in, Palmieri said. They discovered Perrone hiding in a closet behind some clothes.
Deputies said they also seized a small amount of cocaine, drug scales, material for packaging drugs for sale, syringes and other drug paraphernalia.
While authorities searched the trailer, Perrone’s brother-in-law and sister returned to their residence. They were arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting a felon, Palmieri said.
Perrone’s sister was identified as Annette Engel, 25. Her husband was identified as Timothy Engel, 31.