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Card Player Robbed After Returning Home

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A man was robbed at gunpoint of $1,000 in the basement garage of his apartment building as he returned from a Commerce card club about 4 a.m. Friday, Los Angeles police said.

Detectives at the Police Department’s West Valley station said they suspect the victim was either followed home from the club or ambushed by a gunman who had followed him home on a previous night.

As he left, the gunman fired a single shot, but the intended victim was not hurt, police said.

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The gunman apparently followed the victim into the garage as the 57-year-old man drove his late-model Cadillac through a security gate, Detective Robert Johansen said. The gunman pointed the pistol at the victim, commanded him to “give me your money,” and forced him to the floor. The gunman then took the man’s wallet from his pants and tried to take a gold necklace, but left it behind when it broke, Johansen said.

The victim told police he had broken even after a night of card playing at the Commerce Casino and was carrying about $1,000 in his wallet, which was taken from his pants pocket. He said he was sure he had not been followed from the Commerce Casino--either on the freeway or on the surface streets that lead to his apartment in the 5800 block of Etiwanda Avenue. He told detectives he had not seen any headlights behind him, Johansen said.

“He swears he wasn’t followed home,” the detective said.

After the holdup, the gunman asked his victim how to open the security gate, then fired the shot as he went through the gate. The bullet lodged in the tire of another car near where the victim was lying, Johansen said.

Police said the gunman got into a burgundy 1992 Cadillac Seville driven by another man.

Johansen said that in the past there have been waves of follow-home robberies in the Tarzana-Encino area that appear to originate at South Los Angeles card clubs. But the number of follow-home robberies had dropped in recent months.

“They’ve slowed way down. We’ve only had two in the last couple of months,” Johansen said. He added that the robbers seem to favor older, well-dressed club patrons who leave alone and drive away in relatively expensive cars.

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