CAMARILLO — Two men, one armed with a handgun, burst into a smoke shop Tuesday morning and stole thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes before leading deputies on a high-speed chase to the San Fernando Valley, authorities said.
Harry James Roberson, 21, of Los Angeles was arrested when a police dog clamped onto him as he hid behind a Woodland Hills home. Three other suspects remained at large Tuesday night.
The robbery started about 11 a.m. at Cigarette Store No. 8 in a strip mall in the 300 block of Arneill Road in Camarillo and lasted nearly 10 minutes, Eric Nishimoto of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said. Two men robbed the store while two others waited in a pair of minivans, which were then loaded with cases of cigarettes valued at more than $15,000.
Robbers locked a store clerk inside an office during the holdup, but he managed to break out and call authorities. By then, the robbers had fled, Nishimoto said.
It's unclear what the robbers did next--detectives believe that they may have stashed or abandoned one of the vans--but the other van, which was carrying all four suspects, was spotted minutes later on the southbound Ventura Freeway in Thousand Oaks.
More than a dozen deputies and California Highway Patrol officers chased the van until it exited on De Soto Avenue. At the end of the offramp, the occupants abandoned the van and ran.
Two helicopters, a dozen more officers and two police dogs were brought in to search the area, which included both homes and businesses.
Roberson was found about 12:15 p.m., Nishimoto said. He is being held on suspicion of armed robbery in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Nishimoto refused to say if any of the stolen cigarettes were recovered or if authorities had located the other van. He would also not comment on whether surveillance tape of the robbery was available.