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Transient Is Arrested in Series of Robberies

May 02, 2003|Jose Cardenas | Times Staff Writer

A 29-year-old man suspected of committing 44 armed robberies at Asian American-owned businesses throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles was arrested this week, authorities said Thursday.

Phat Ly, who was described as a transient, faces a third strike if convicted, said Deputy Brian Lendman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Police are looking for a second robber.

Within the last year, Ly and his accomplice, both fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, have entered dozens of small businesses such as flower shops, beauty salons and herb shops and pretended to be shoppers, Lendman said. Then they pulled small handguns and robbed the stores of cash and jewelry. Some robberies occurred within minutes of one another.

On Tuesday night, investigators with the Sheriff's Department's major crimes unit tracked Ly to a motel in Alhambra, Lendman said.

He drove away just before 10 p.m., and deputies arrested him at a gas station in Boyle Heights.

The last robbery that investigators believe Ly committed occurred earlier Tuesday evening.

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