Los Angeles police Thursday were looking for four men who terrorized and injured members of an Encino family during a home invasion-style robbery in which the gunmen may have gone to the wrong house.
Investigators said they remained puzzled by the gunmen's target, the level of violence during the robbery and the demands the gunmen made during the robbery at 1 a.m. Wednesday at the house in the 4900 block of Hayvenhurst Avenue.
The identities of the victims--a husband and wife and their two sons--were not released by police as a safety precaution.
The 46-year-old woman was frightened so badly during the episode that she jumped out a ground-floor window of the house, severely slashing herself with broken glass.
Detective Robert Johansen said the family members were asleep when the front door of the house in the upper-middle-class neighborhood was kicked open and the robbers, all wearing ski masks, rushed in.
The robbers kicked the doors to the bedrooms open and gathered the family together, Johansen said.
The robbers locked the wife in a bathroom and then began demanding that the husband, 50, and the sons, 20 and 17, show them where their safe was.
"They kept saying, 'Where's the safe? Where's the safe?' " Johansen said. "But there is no safe. It's a nice neighborhood, but it's not the kind of neighborhood where houses have safes."
The husband and sons were each struck in the face or head with pistols before the robbers became convinced that there was no safe.
Meantime, the woman in the bathroom broke through a window to escape.
The robbers took a small amount of money and jewelry worth about $4,000 before fleeing.
The entire incident lasted no more than seven minutes, police said.
All four victims were treated for injuries, and the woman remained hospitalized Thursday after needing almost 200 stitches to close cuts suffered when she crashed through the window, Johansen said.
Investigators are convinced that the robbers did not know the family, Johansen said.
"It's a straight whodunit," he said. "We have no idea of who the suspects were or why they targeted that family."
The robbery also is unlike any others in the area in recent weeks, Johansen said.
Because the robbers demanded the location of a nonexistent safe, he said, "there is a possibility that they got the wrong house."
However, he said the robbers may also have made the demand on the off chance that the family did, indeed, have a safe in their home and would be frightened into revealing its location.