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Group-distraction store robbery caught on tape

March 7, 2012 10:05:00 PM PST
A brazen robbery was caught on tape Monday when a large group of people distracted employees in a San Clemente store as one suspect slipped into the back and made off with thousands of dollars in cash.

Surveillance video shows five women, four of them wearing headscarves, walking into a store. A man in a black T-shirt follows. It's 1:20 p.m. Monday at the International Ranch Market in San Clemente.

Authorities said eight suspects quickly scattered to different parts of the store.

"Each one takes an employee, started distracting them, asking them information about merchandise and things of that nature," said Orange County Sheriff's Dept. Spokesman Jim Amormino.

A male suspect at the counter and a female suspect wearing a red headscarf keep the worker at the cash register busy as they pretend to be regular shoppers. Authorities said a woman with a ponytail wearing a gray shirt and a black skirt then heads to the back office.

"There was a plastic bag which contained $12,000 in cash and receipts. She shoved that plastic bag in her pants," said Amormino.

After several minutes inside the store, the suspects head to the front, taking their time before leaving in a white Ford Windstar van. Others get into a dark-colored Ford Crown Victoria.

"They seem to be professionals. I'm sure they're done this before," said Amormino.

One suspect in a long red headscarf and pink shirt was described as standing 5 feet 6 inches tall with a medium frame.

Another female suspect had a heavier build with hair pulled back into a ponytail.

The three other females were described as being in their 20s to 30s, all wearing headscarves and long skirts.

Two male suspects were described as being in their early 30s, standing about 6 feet tall, wearing jeans and black T-shirts. The third man was in his late 30s, standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing about 250 pounds, with wavy hair in a ponytail.

If you have information related to the crime, call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.