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Los Angeles

$345,000 Stolen From Back Seats of 2 Vehicles

Crime: A reward is offered for return of money stolen while men were at lunch.

January 12, 2002|HECTOR BECERRA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thieves got $345,000 left on the back seats of two vehicles in the Exposition Park area while the owners ate lunch nearby, police said Friday.

Victor Moreno, owner of a Los Angeles check-cashing business who usually hired an armored truck to carry money to work, decided to break with routine on Jan. 5 and carry it himself along with an employee, police said.

After taking the money out of the bank, the two stopped at Panda Express on Figueroa Street, said Det. Ted Williams of the Los Angeles Police Department's Southwest Division.

Moreno parked on the street and his employee parked in the restaurant's lot. Moreno's Mercedes-Benz had about $150,000 in a bag on the back seat. The employee had a bag with about $195,000 on the back seat of a Nissan Xterra.

When they returned after about half an hour at 2:30 p.m., they found the windows smashed and the money gone.

On Friday, Moreno's brother Oscar announced a $10,000 reward plus 10% of any money recovered for information leading to the thieves.

Detectives and Oscar Moreno declined to say why Victor Moreno decided to transport the money and why it was left in the vehicles. "It wasn't a normal procedure. It was a one-shot deal," Williams said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Williams at (213) 485-6777 during business hours or the LAPD's 24-hour hotline at (877) 529-3855.

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