Four ‘flash robbery’ suspects accused of raiding a California Macy’s led cops on a wild pursuit hiding inside a dentist’s office before unsuccessfully trying to flee in a rideshare – getting the unsuspecting driver arrested in the process.
Three of the four suspects were spotted dashing away from Macy’s at Brea Mall at around 12pm Tuesday laden with stolen goods, before taking cops on a high-speed chase that forced a nearby elementary school into lockdown.
The trio fled from the mall in a getaway car tailed by police, driving recklessly until they came to a stop near Laurel Elementary School, which they did not enter.
Instead, they ran across the street into Brooks Larson DDS dentist’s surgery where one female assailant reportedly faked a heart attack – sparking an emergency response from stunned dentist Dr Brooks Larson and his team, who had been having lunch together moments before.
But she quickly dropped her act when a rideshare car pulled up and the gang ran to get in. Officers then swooped in to arrest the three at gunpoint – along with their unsuspecting driver – while the fourth suspect was snared at the mall.
The suspects were identified as Louie Velasco, Jocelyn Mendoza, Sherry Rogers and Marlon Deleon.
In the newest incident, three of the four suspects are seen in the video as they run away with stolen merchandise in their hands
The suspected thieves started their ‘flash rob’ journey at Brea Mall, moving on to Laurel Elementary School, Brooks Larson DDS and then attempted to get in a ride share
It is the latest in a worrying trend of so-called ‘flash rob’ robberies from big chain stores in Democrat-led California where groups of people steal merchandise and evade overwhelmed security staff.
When a reporter from KTLA asked the dentist if he thought it was a ‘ruse’ to get away from the police Larson said: ‘110 percent, absolutely. It was very quick, it was a good ploy’
Dr Larson spoke to KTLA about the suspects’ dramatic arrival in his waiting room on Tuesday, as he and his staff rushed to save the woman they thought was having a medical emergency.
‘This woman acted like she was having a heart attack, I responded going through my emergency protocols and we were treating a heart attack victim, we thought.’
When KTLA asked if he thought it was a ‘ruse’ to get away from the police, Larson said: ‘110 percent, absolutely. It was very quick, it was a good ploy.’
The story had started when a citizen reported a suspicious person in the mall parking lot and police detained a male suspect, Brea Police Public Information Officer Lt. Harvey said.
Shortly after, cops got a second call back to the mall to a report of grand theft at Macy’s, before the chase began. The trio were able to ditch the car near Laurel Elementary after cops said they were driving so recklessly they had to stop their pursuit.
The Brea Police Department reported that earlier in the day they also received a call of an armed robbery at a local Wells Fargo. No victim was located.
Now authorities believe that the call was a hoax in an attempt to distract officers from the mall at the time.
The innocent rideshare driver arrested alongside the three suspects was quickly released by police.
Lieutenant Chris Harvey said: ‘It’s not an uncommon thing for us to have that, and for rideshare drivers to go through that. It’s never a pleasant experience, obviously, to have the police detain you at gunpoint and think you are the suspect when you’re not.’
Suspect Marlon Deleon racked up multiple charges including theft, conspiracy, providing false identifying information, evading a police officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, possession of drugs while armed and multiple warrants.
Louie Velasco was charged with identity theft, access card fraud, possession of drug paraphernalia, and providing false identity information.
Jocelyn Mendoza was charged with theft, conspiracy, proving false identifying information, and falsely reporting an emergency.
Sherry Rogers was charged with theft and conspiracy.
‘Flash rob’ thefts in California have hit headlines several times in recent weeks, with huge chains like Home Depot and Nordstrom Rack to high-end stores like YSL falling victim to groups of criminals.
Lieutenant Harvey said it is not uncommon for rideshare drivers to get tangled up in crimes, but as soon as they are cleared, they are released
After ditching their car near the school, the suspects went across the street to Brooks Larson DDS dentist’s office
A Home Depot in California was attacked by a gang of thieves taking $5,000 in merchandise
Suspects in a ‘flash rob’ at a Nordstrom Rack in California made a run for the accessory section and stacked their arms with handbags
The appalling scenes come amid rampant crime in the lawless Democratic state that has seen an exodus of citizens to Republican strongholds, offices deserted and countless business shuttered as opioid-addicted vagrants fill the sidewalks.
On August 8, the YSL store at the Glendale Americana at Brand was ransacked by 30 people who made off with $400,000 in products. Ivan Isaac Ramirez, 23, was apprehended by cops on August 17.
Nordstrom Rack in Riverside was targeted twice by groups of thieves – on July 10 and again on August 14 when it was ransacked by a band of six thieves who made off with thousands of dollars worth of designer handbags.
On August 27, Home Depot in Signal Hill was stormed by a group of masked thieves who swiped $5,000 worth of power tools in full view of shocked staff and customers.
The crimewave has led to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass launching a multi-agency retail theft task force to address the crimes which has led to 11 arrests so far.
Long Beach and Signal Hill created their own task force to put an end to the commercial burglaries they say is part of organized theft rings.