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Two Held in Attempted Home Invasion Robbery in Irvine

August 07, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Two men posing as cable employees were arrested Wednesday after they allegedly attacked an Irvine couple during an attempted home invasion robbery, police said.

The suspects, Mick Tanner, 27, of Rowland Heights, and Christopher Cho, 37, of Diamond Bar, were being held at Orange County Jail on suspicion of assault and attempted robbery.

The couple, a 25-year-old man and his 24-year-old girlfriend, were not seriously injured. The man was treated for a facial cut.

Police said the ruse began in July when one of the suspects allegedly called the couple to solicit for a Chinese cable TV service. One man visited the home for a consultation several weeks later and returned Wednesday for the scheduled installation.

When one of the suspects completed an inspection of the home about 11 a.m., he pepper-sprayed the man and struck him in the face with the canister, said Irvine Police Lt. Jeff Love.

The second suspect ran upstairs and tried to gag the woman with duct tape as she slept, police said. The couple struggled with the men, who eventually fled in a silver Mercedes SUV with paper license plates.

"It would appear that the suspects somehow pretended to represent a cable service that caters to the Chinese community," Love said.

Neighbors called police after the man ran into the street bleeding from the face and screaming for help.

The suspected getaway car was spotted by police about two miles away, near Hearthstone and Irvine Center Drive. The men were arrested without incident.

"Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but they are pretty violent," Love said.

It was not immediately known if any property was taken, he said.

The attack was the first such ruse reported in Irvine; investigators said they have contacted other law-enforcement agencies to determine if there are additional victims.

"We're concerned because these individuals were portraying themselves as legitimate businesspeople and gained access inside victims' homes," Love said.

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