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ECHO PARK : 16-Year-Old Charged Series of Robberies

July 03, 1994|TOMMY LI

A 16-year-old Echo Park boy has been charged in connection with a three-month-long armed-robbery spree that preyed upon drivers in Silver Lake, Echo Park and Chinatown.

The boy, whose name was withheld because of his age, could be tried as an adult pending a hearing July 20, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Licker.

He could face up to five years in jail for each robbery conviction and another five if found guilty of using a gun while committing a crime, Licker said.

Although prosecutors filed only seven counts, police believe he was involved in at least 30 cases.

"We have some crimes that go as far back as April that we think we can tie him to," said Detective Gary Greubel of the Police Department's Northeast Division. But the big crime spree happened June 6-24, he said.

Police said the driver of a blue Honda Prelude wielded a handgun and demanded money while remaining in his vehicle.

In most of the cases, the victims had just parked their vehicles at home and were trying to get out, police said. No one was injured in the holdups.

One female victim in Silver Lake rammed her vehicle into the Prelude in an effort to stop the thief, Greubel said.

But the bandit drove away and she ended up driving back home to call police.

The most money stolen at one time was $300, but Greubel said he didn't know the total from all victims. The boy, who is from Thailand but lives with his grandmother, also told police that he was using the money to purchase drugs, Greubel said.

Police arrested the suspect June 24 in Echo Park while responding to an attempted-robbery call. The driver of a blue Prelude demanded money from a resident who was getting out of his vehicle, police said.

Instead of handing over money, the victim ran into his house and called police, Greubel said.

The bandit drove away and was caught by police at Berkeley and Alvarado streets. A .357 Magnum was recovered from the vehicle, he said.

Police said the crime spree prompted officers to send out flyers June 20 to residents in the Silver Lake, Echo Park and Elysian Valley communities.

Virginia Adams, an Elysian Valley community activist who received one of those flyers, said she is worried about future similar crimes.

"We're glad that they catch any criminal," she said.

But "when they arrest one, there's usually two or three other ones with them."

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