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Infrared camera helps arrest 4 robbery suspects at Santa Ana marijuana dispensary

March 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Three teens and a man were arrested early Wednesday with the help of an infrared camera during a botched break-in at a Santa Ana marijuana dispensary.

Santa Ana police were sent to Patients Healing Group in the 700 block of West 17st Street around 2:15 a.m. after the business owner's security system alerted him of a break-in. Also sent to check out the scene was "Duke," an Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter with a camera that shoots infrared video.

Pictures taken with the camera show two suspects apparently thinking they were hiding in the dark on the roof of the building. Duke spotted the suspects from two miles away and the crew was telling police on the ground where to look. Police said the two were helping a third suspect on the roof who appeared to be stuck in the opening of a rooftop air vent.

"The two guys that are hiding have to help him get out of the hole," said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. "Apparently, he was falling down to the ground."

As officers surrounded the building, two suspects jumped to the neighboring rooftop to escape. Apparently knowing they had been caught, one of the suspects on the roof took the time to sit down, send text messages and make a phone call. Eventually, one-by-one the teenagers surrendered to police.

A fourth suspect, 18-year-old Gustavo Penaloza of Anaheim, was suspected of being a lookout on the ground.

According to an online list, the business offers a variety of marijuana. Police said none was stolen since the burglary was interrupted.

However, the company itself may now be in trouble. Authorities said the pot dispensary violates city code. It's been cited in the past and was told in November 2011 to shut down.

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