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Smash-and-grab ring busted in Inland Empire

November 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An Inland Empire crime ring bust has seven people under arrest. Police suspect they were involved in crimes across Southern California, including identity theft, grand theft and illegal drugs.Detectives say they have not put a dollar value on recovered stolen goods that include purses, jewelry, phones and cash. And there's more: stolen identities, stolen checks, stolen credit cards.

The suspects are allegedly members of a smash-and-grab ring, suspected of victimizing countless people in the Inland Empire, Orange County and Los Angeles as well.

But the elaborate operation started to fall apart two months ago when one of the suspects tried to cash a stolen check at a bank in Chino Hills and made a mistake.

"In an attempt to leave quickly, he left his identification at the scene," said Chino Hills Sheriff's Deputy Randy Naquin.

That investigation led authorities to serve search warrants all across Southern California, in Chino Hills, La Puente, Pomona, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga.

Drugs and weapons were seized, including a sawed-off rifle. Seven people were arrested.

"These all were associates of one another, and I'm sure there's plenty of other groups that are very similar out there right now," said Naquin.

One of things detectives noticed in this case was that most of the victims were women. The suspects would smash into a car and grab a purse. Inside that purse they found glasses, jewelry, cash and credit cards.

"Most women carry all their belongings, their identification, their credit cards, their checkbooks, in their purses," said Naquin. "When they noticed that the women are not taking their purses from their vehicles, they know that the purses are still in there, and those are the vehicles they're going to target."

An eighth suspect, Pheng Em, has not been located.

A lot of the recovered property hasn't been claimed yet.

If you have information related to the case, or the outstanding suspect, you're asked to contact police at (800) 78-CRIME (800-782-7463).


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