Police: Suspect went on small robbery spree

Undeterred by a sizable police search and police helicopter hovering overhead, authorities said a Rancho Cucamonga man doubled down on his luck Monday by robbing a bank only minutes after stealing from a nearby restaurant.

Police arrested Kenneth Wayne Bennett, 46, about 2 p.m. Monday outside a Costa Mesa Albertsons store on suspicion that he robbed the Downey Savings branch inside, and less than 30 minutes earlier had stolen a bottle of liquor and a cash register from Newport Rib Co. down the street.

“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” joked Sgt. Bob Phillips, adding Bennett claimed as much when officers found a bottle of Chambord and DVDs (police believe they are stolen) inside his backpack and money they said is from Downey Savings inside his pockets.

Either a busboy or the restaurant chef at Newport Rib Co. noticed the cash register was missing about 1:30 p.m. and went out back to find it, Phillips said. Police said the employee saw Bennett running away with the register and Chambord in hand. The employee later found the register behind a nearby market.

Soon after the man allegedly made off with the register (he never got it open), police swarmed the area looking for their suspect. Officers found Bennett, who matched their man’s description, exiting the back of Albertsons. After a short foot chase, officers interviewing Bennett heard a call come over the radio about a bank robbery of that very supermarket.

Phillips said even for a crime spree, Monday’s incident was unusual because suspects typically take more time and go over a wider area to commit their crimes. They don’t often stay in the area and do another crime when marked police cars and helicopters are looking for them.

Police arrested Bennett on suspicion of grand theft and armed robbery from the bank heist. He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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