WOODLAND HILLS — At least six masked men barged into a Waterbury Street home, tied up the couple living in the house and made off with thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, Los Angeles police said Thursday.
"They ransacked the residence and took an undisclosed amount of money," Det. Ken DeBie said. DeBie said the couple did not want to be identified. He would neither confirm nor deny news reports that the robbers' haul reached $18,000.
A woman who lives in the house, in the 22500 block of Waterbury Street, told police that when she returned to the home about 11:30 Thursday night she was greeted by a handgun-toting masked man who asked if anyone was in the house and if she owned any guns.
According to police, she told the gunman her boyfriend was in the house. At that point several other masked men--at least one armed with a handgun--joined them and hustled the woman into the home, police said.
A few of the men remained downstairs and tied the woman, while others tied her boyfriend, who was caught unawares as he watched television upstairs, police said. There were no children in the house, DeBie said.
The victims never saw all the robbers at the same time, so police are not sure how many there were.
Although armed, the robbers were not violent or abusive, DeBie said, and the couple was not physically harmed. "If you've got to go through something like this, this is the way to do it," he said.
But DeBie wondered how the couple would cope with the psychological toll of the event.
"You know--you go through something like this and your home is no longer your castle," he said.
"I think she was picked up on her way home," said DeBie, theorizing that the robbers sighted her car and followed her as she drove home from a theater. The woman told police she noticed a small red car pull off to the right side of the road to wait for another vehicle as she was driving home but did not notice anyone following her, DeBie said.
"This is not very common at all," DeBie said, noting the unusually large number of participants. Home-invasion robberies are not common and it is rare for so many robbers to commit one together, he said. According to LAPD spokesman Mike Partain, there were 2,137 home-invasion robberies in Los Angeles last year; about 160 each month.
DeBie urged people to be aware of their surroundings when approaching their residences and said motorists returning home "should check their rear-view mirror every once in a while."
DeBie said police have no leads in the case.