Bandits Stole 'Substantial' Sum From DMV Office

From Associated Press

Two armed men who held seven employees hostage at a Department of Motor Vehicles building here managed to steal a "substantial" amount of money from an office safe, the California Highway Patrol said Wednesday.

Investigators were puzzling over Tuesday's robbery, which saw police rescue the employees after a three-hour standoff--only to find that the apparent hostage-takers had escaped before officers arrived.

"It seems to me like it's all timing, just quickness on their part," CHP spokesman Gary Hagen said of the approximately 15 minutes between the time an employee called 911 about 6 p.m. and the time police cordoned off the industrial park area in south San Jose.

Hagen declined to specify how much money the robbers took, beyond calling the amount substantial.

He said investigators had no leads in the case.

The office, which did not have security cameras, will reopen Tuesday, DMV spokesman Steve Haskins said. He added that someone tried to break into the building late last month.

On Tuesday evening, seven employees huddled in a bathroom after two men armed with a rifle and wearing black bandannas herded them in, according to the account of at least one worker, Hagen reported.

Within an hour, officers had cordoned off the area.

Helicopters patrolled overhead and anxious relatives gathered.

After three hours without any indication that anyone was inside the building except the seven employees, a police SWAT team entered.

Within five minutes, the employees had been released and police had found no one else.

"I was shaking for about two hours, just thinking what could have happened here," said Paul Lopez, father of 22-year-old office employee Damaris Ortiz.

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