Four "follow-home" robbery suspects, caught in the act when police watched them rob a Woodland Hills woman they trailed from a supermarket, are believed to be part of a ring of thieves who committed many sophisticated robberies, Los Angeles police said Wednesday.
Detectives said they believe a group of at least eight and probably more friends have taken part in a series of follow-home robberies that have alarmed many residents of the San Fernando Valley since mid-1991. Unlike many robbers who steal to support drug habits, follow-home bandits use the money to pay lawyers, buy sports cars and vacation in Las Vegas, police said.
Detectives said they will seek charges today against the four suspects arrested Tuesday by members of the department's Special Investigations Section, an undercover unit which had one of the suspects under surveillance because he had been arrested previously for follow-home robberies.
Follow-home robbers pick out a victim in a public place such as a supermarket or on the street--sometimes choosing those displaying signs of wealth such as costly jewelry or driving expensive cars--and follow them home by car, pouncing when the victim's car halts.
The three adults arrested--Bernard Roberts, 24, of Granada Hills, Richard Talley, 22, of Pasadena and Derrick Mosley, 20, of Pacoima--were being held in lieu of $1-million bail each at the West Valley Division Jail. The fourth suspect, a 17-year-old Pacoima boy, was being held at the Sylmar Juvenile Hall pending a custody hearing.
Police said the four were arrested when SIS officers moved in as they robbed Catherine Rothenberg in the garage of her Nomad Drive home Tuesday afternoon. Rothenberg was not injured and her purse and a diamond ring taken by the robbers were recovered.
Detective Gustavo Ruiz said investigators are probing links between the four suspects and as many as 24 other follow-home robberies in the Valley. He said detectives from as far as Pasadena and Malibu are also investigating whether the foursome was responsible for robberies in those communities.
Roberts already faces six charges from prior arrests for follow-home robberies.