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Robbers Hit Shops, Net Less Than $500

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Armed robbers held up at least four, and perhaps five, San Fernando Valley shops early Monday, shooting a man outside a convenience store, but apparently netted comparatively little money for such a widespread series of crimes.

“In the whole crime spree, I don’t think they got more than $500,” said Mel Arnold, a robbery detective in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys division. “That won’t even cover their gas money,” he quipped.

The shooting victim, whose identity police concealed for his safety, was hospitalized in serious but stable condition and was expected to survive, police said.

The robberies took place at four 7-Elevens and the same gunmen may also have hit a doughnut shop in the 14860 block of Sherman Way about 1:30 a.m., police said.

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And although police believed all the holdups were the work of the same robbers, they were unsure exactly how many there were, saying witness descriptions and videotapes by store security cameras appeared to indicate that two to four robbers in their teens or early 20s were involved.

“The MO and the physical descriptions appear to be the same,” said Lt. Dan Hoffman of the LAPD’s Valley headquarters. “But that is why (detectives) are all looking at all the tapes, to see if they are the same or if it is just coincidental.”

Devonshire Division robbery Detective Michael Brandt said the gunmen “come in in masks, in twos or threes, jump over the counter and take the money trays.” In most cases, they barked at cashiers to give up their money or they would be shot, he said.

Detectives from the Downtown Robbery-Homicide Division and the LAPD’s Devonshire, West Valley and North Hollywood divisions spent much of the day Monday interviewing victims and reviewing videotapes of the bandits retrieved from hidden security cameras in all of the convenience stores. But they said they have no suspects and no identification on a possible getaway car.

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The bandits apparently struck first at 12:05 a.m. at a 7-Eleven in the 10600 block of Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood, taking $85, followed by a robbery at a 7-Eleven in the 13700 block of Vanowen Boulevard in Van Nuys.

In North Hollywood, one bandit carried a revolver and the other a shotgun, and demanded money not only from the cashiers but customers in the store as well, said Lt. Ron LaRue, head of detectives in the North Hollywood Division.

He said police believe the same men may have held up another convenience store on July 30, at 4506 Lankershim Blvd., taking $1,200 from the store and five customers.

In the Van Nuys robbery Monday, “two male blacks appeared to be (among) the same suspects that hit everybody else,” Arnold said. “They got $60 in cold hard cash, and that’s it.”

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About 1:10 a.m., two gunmen were in the process of robbing a 7-Eleven at 10690 Balboa Avenue in Granada Hills when another robber waiting outside began scuffling with a man and then shot him, Brandt said.

The victim was undergoing surgery Monday for a chest wound at Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills and “should be OK,” Brandt said. Police said they expected to interview the man today to determine whether he could identify the gunmen.

The last of the robberies occurred at 1:50 a.m.


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