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2 Sought in Long String of Holdups

Orange County

January 01, 2004|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A countywide investigation is underway to find two masked gunmen suspected in a rash of commercial robberies across Orange County, the latest occurring Tuesday when they held up five businesses, officials said.

The pair may be responsible for as many as two dozen robberies in December, including ones this week in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Lake Forest.

"They're in masks, so it's hard to see, but the MO and the suspect description appears to be the same," said Costa Mesa Police Lt. John FitzPatrick, who is investigating three holdups.

The men point semiautomatic handguns at employees and demand money from the cash register. They have fled with thousands of dollars, but there has been no report of a getaway car, police said.

Police said the five businesses held up Tuesday included a Ramada Inn in the 1600 block of Superior Avenue in Costa Mesa, from which the robbers fled with two watches and several hundred dollars, and a 7-Eleven on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, from which they got away with $400 and two cartons of cigarettes.

None of the victims have been injured, but police said the gunmen should be considered dangerous.

They are described as white, in their 20s, slender to medium in build and 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall. They usually wear sweatshirts, hooded jackets and ski masks.

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