A ransacked Macy’s, a fake heart attack, a rideshare getaway car: Brea heist turns bizarre
Three people burst through the doors of Brea Dentistry midday Tuesday, one worried she was having a heart attack.
“She came to a front desk in a panic,” said Kate Romeyn, the office’s treatment and financial coordinator.
The small dental team jumped up from their lunch break to respond to the medical emergency as they had prepared — directing one of the woman’s companions to call 911, while ushering the woman into an operating room to take vitals and prepare for CPR.
“We were just doing our due diligence to help someone who we thought was having a heart attack,” Romeyn said.
But, as it turned out, she said, police determined that stop was just a cover as the trio tried to evade arrest.
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In the end, officials determined the frenzied dental office visit was one stop in a bizarre heist that began with a sizable theft from the Brea Mall Macy’s and ended with a rideshare driver at the helm of the suspects’ getaway car — unbeknownst to the driver — before police officers stepped in.
“Later, we find out that [they] called an Uber, not an ambulance,” Romeyn said. “It was really crazy.”
After a few minutes in the dentist’s office, the woman who had feigned a heart attack leaped up, proclaiming she felt better, and the group left almost as quickly as they entered, Romeyn said — leaving behind a trail of hangers and security tags in the lobby.
As the trio exited the dentist’s office, according to police, they attempted to escape in a rideshare car they’d called, but officers had been alerted to their location and pulled them over. All three were arrested, as was a fourth person who was linked to the scheme after being detained outside the mall, police said.
Brea police officers initially responded just before noon to a call about a suspicious person outside the Macy’s, where officers detained and arrested Louie Velasco of South Gate, according to Lt. Chris Harvey, spokesperson for the Brea Police Department. At the same time, officers were called to an armed purse snatching at a nearby bank, but no victim was located, Harvey said.
Detectives linked that “fabricated call” to Velasco, Harvey said, arresting him on suspicion of providing false information and identity theft.
Minutes later, officers were called to the Macy’s for what Harvey described as a “grand theft,” which covers thefts over $950. Officers spotted three suspects driving away from the store. They tried to speed away and led police on a short chase. Because of reckless driving, officers called off the chase, Harvey said.
Their car, however, was later found near Laurel Elementary, which briefly went on lockdown due to its proximity to the suspects, Harvey said. After ditching their vehicle, the suspects went into Brea Dentistry — faking the medical emergency until their rideshare vehicle arrived, he said.
All occupants in the rideshare vehicle were detained, but the driver was soon released, Harvey said.
“The poor Uber driver, he was taken out of the car at gunpoint, and he was just like, ‘What is happening?’” Romeyn said. “I’m glad that [the officers] were on it and caught them outside. It could have been a lot worse.”
Crimes that discourage people from shopping and enjoying pubic places undermine the quality of life and could have serious consequences if left unchecked. So could irresponsible, fear-mongering falsehoods about the causes of those crimes.
The three arrested after the dentist stop were identified as Jocelyn Mendoza of Simi Valley, and Sherry Rogers and Marlon Deleon, both of Los Angeles. All were booked on suspicion of theft and conspiracy. Mendoza was also arrested on suspicion of providing false information and falsely reporting an emergency, and Deleon also faces potential charges of providing false information, evading a police officer, felon in possession of a firearm, as well as prior warrants. Harvey did not know what items were stolen from the Macy’s or their total value.
Harvey said the incident was resolved thanks to help from the community.
“This call and successful resolution was a result of citizens seeing something suspicious and calling the police,” Harvey said.
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