Two men suspected in an armed robbery of the Bullock's Wilshire department store in La Jolla were arrested in downtown Los Angeles after a chase that began on Interstate 5 in San Clemente, police said Thursday.
Three men entered the store in La Jolla Village Square through the mall entrance shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday and made their way to the fine-jewelry counter, where they shouted: "This is a holdup! Get down!" said San Diego police spokesman Dave Cohen. One of the three was carrying a sawed-off shotgun, Cohen said, and two clerks and a customer dropped to their knees.
One of the men attempted to break the shatterproof glass in the display cases with a hammer, but, when he failed, the man carrying the shotgun threatened one of the clerks and she opened the cases, Cohen said.
The men put the jewelry in a canvas bag, walked through the cosmetics department and exited to the parking lot, Cohen said. The jewelry was valued at about $217,000, police said.
Pair Changed to Another Vehicle
Witnesses saw the men drive away in a brown 1986 Chevrolet, which police found in a nearby parking lot, according to Cohen. The men changed vehicles and fled in a dark van, he said.
U. S. Border Patrol officers spotted such a van at the San Clemente checkpoint and began chasing the vehicle on I-5 when the driver failed to stop at the inspection area, Cohen said.
Several agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, the San Clemente, Irvine, Anaheim and Los Angeles police departments and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, participated in the chase, which ended when the van ran out of gas about an hour and a half after the robbery.
Donald Ray Hobson, 39, and Travon Carruthers, 22, were arrested on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and auto theft, said Lt. Kraig Kessler of the San Diego Police Department's robbery division. They were being held at County Jail downtown.
At least one other suspect remained at large, and police believe that more people may have been involved in driving the getaway car or in the switching of vehicles, said Kessler, who added that armed robberies of department stores during working hours are unusual.
Of the approximately 20 pieces of jewelry that were stolen, only a ring and a bracelet were found in the van. Other stolen pieces included Movado Museum watches, pearls, an emerald ring, a jade necklace and a jade ring.
The store's security staff gave police a preliminary estimate of the loss, but a Bullock's spokeswoman in Los Angeles said the exact value had not been tabulated by the store's jewelry expert.
The investigation will continue in conjunction with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department's gang unit, Kessler said.