2 Men Tie Up, Rob North Ranch Couple at Home

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police were searching Wednesday for two men who bound and robbed a retired Thousand Oaks couple at their home in North Ranch, a community known for its safety and luxury properties.

The robbers--one in a ski mask, the other with a nylon stocking over his head--grabbed the 63-year-old wife about 7:30 a.m. as she gardened in her yard in the 5000 block of Long Shadow Court, said Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Frank O'Hanlon.

Although parts of North Ranch are gated, the couple's neighborhood is not. Authorities said the house, tucked out of sight, has its own gate, which was open.

The robbers forced the woman inside the home and bound her and her 76-year-old husband with duct tape, O'Hanlon said. One of the robbers had a handgun, authorities said.

The robbers ransacked the house and used the couple's gray-tone 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee as their getaway car. An inventory of stolen goods had not been released, but police said jewelry and cash were taken.

The couple took several minutes to free themselves and call police. As authorities began their search, paramedics treated the couple at their home for minor cuts and bruises.

Police described the suspects as black males in their 20s wearing dark clothing. One is about 5 feet 11 inches tall, and 200 pounds; the other is 6 feet tall, and 200 to 215 pounds.

O'Hanlon said robberies in North Ranch are "extremely uncommon," occurring only every couple of years. This was the first home invasion reported in Thousand Oaks this year, said sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto.

One neighbor, who was walking her dog past the crime scene hours later, said she has felt so safe in the five years she has lived there that she often teases her husband about his vigilance.

"I always tell my husband he's being overprotective about wanting the alarm on," said Nicole Weinberg, 54. "Everyone has alarms. We're alarmed to death. I tell him 'This is such a safe neighborhood, this is the last place anything is going to happen.' "

Still, Weinberg concedes that her husband's concern has rubbed off on her with regard to solicitors. When a stranger knocks, she said, "We don't even answer the door."

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area over the last few days is asked to call sheriff's officials at 494-8201.

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