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SoCal gamblers targeted by robbers

December 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Police announced on Monday arrests in connection with a string of robberies that targeted casino winners as they returned home.In a news conference, police said they have three men in custody who are believed to be responsible for several follow-home robberies. There are as many as eight cases under investigation.

Jonathan Atkins, who currently serves in the Army, Raymond Little from Duarte, and Gary Smith of Hacienda Heights were arrested early Saturday morning in Hollywood.

Orange County authorities had the suspects under surveillance and witnessed them follow a couple out of the Commerce Casino. Police pulled over the vehicle the suspects were in before they had a chance to rob the couple.

The Bureau of Gambling Control said there have been several reports of people being followed home from the Commerce Casino, the Hustler Casino and the Normandy Casino by suspects fitting the same description.

Tens of thousands of dollars have been reported as stolen.

The suspects are seen in casino surveillance tapes, and they were also captured on toll road cameras.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department said one victim was a 66-year-old Lake Forest man, who was robbed at gunpoint when he got to his home.

When the victim refused to give the suspect his money, the suspect told him to turn around and get on his knees while pointing a gun at him, said Asst. Sheriff Mike Hillman.

"Fearing that he would be shot in the back, the victim attempted to run away and dropped the money. A large quantity of money in cash was taken from this particular victim," Hillman said.

Police said they found a fake handgun in the vehicle the suspects were driving, along with camouflage bulletproof vests.

Police believe there may be more victims. If you believe you were a victim of these crimes, you are urged to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 628-7170.


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