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3 Men Arrested in String of 35 Robberies at Supermarkets

July 20, 1991|JIM HERRON ZAMORA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three men suspected of 35 supermarket robberies in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside were arrested outside a Palms area store that had just been robbed by officers assigned to a special patrol to catch them, police said Friday.

Police throughout Southern California are comparing notes to see if they can link the suspects to more robberies, Los Angeles Police Lt. Ross Moen said.

Rodney Aubrey King, 24, and Sean Eugene Farris, 23, both of South Los Angeles, and Gerald Lynn Wade, 22, of San Diego were arrested Thursday night in the parking lot of a Lucky supermarket in the 3400 block of Sepulveda Boulevard near Palms Boulevard, Moen said.

It was the third time the store had been robbed, allegedly by Wade and King, who were dubbed "Mutt and Jeff" by police because of the difference in their heights, Moen said. Wade is 5'10" and weighs 160 pounds, while King is 6'2" and weighs 170 pounds.

Plainclothes police probing the string of robberies were patrolling the area. Alerted by a report of the robbery, they were waiting when three suspects emerged from the store, Moen said.

"We had established a network of measures planned to stop them," Moen said.

Police recovered $1,600 and two loaded semiautomatic handguns that King and Wade allegedly used to rob store manager Kenneth Chapman.

Wade and King surrendered without incident, police said. King then pointed out Farris to them as Farris passed the parking lot in the would-be getaway car, police said.

The three were held on suspicion of armed robbery in the Palms holdup and more charges are expected to be filed, Moen said. Bail was set at $750,000 each and police were trying to increase the amount because of the "frequency and gravity" of the robberies, Moen said.

The robberies had occurred about every three days since March, often between 4 p.m and midnight. No shots were fired in any of the robberies.

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