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Robber plays cop in theater holdup

His impersonation of a Buena Park police detective was elaborate and lengthy, authorities say.

August 20, 2008|Paloma Esquivel | Times Staff Writer

A man who robbed a Buena Park theater this week took the time and care to convince his victims that he was a police detective and that he was there to help solve a crime, authorities said Tuesday.

He wore a gun on his hip and a badge on his shirt and had a business card identifying him as a Buena Park police officer. He made phone calls to supposed supervisors in front of the victims.

Then he turned the gun on the unsuspecting manager and fled with the cash.

The incident was reported about 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Krikorian Theatres in the Buena Park Mall, said Buena Park Police Sgt. Bill Kohanek.

About 1 p.m., the impostor walked into the theater, asked for the manager and told him that he was investigating a recent string of robberies in the area, Kohanek said. The man handed the manager a phony card with the name of an actual Buena Park patrol officer, the sergeant said.

Convinced, the manager invited the phony detective into his office to talk about the investigation. He opened the safe and allowed him to inspect the theater's money.

The man, who wore black pants, a white dress shirt and a green tie, said he was looking at serial numbers to match them with stolen bills.

He also spent some time on the phone with a person he said was his supervisor, Kohanek said.

The robber then pointed his gun at the manager and the assistant manager, tied them up, removed the hard drives from computers that operated the theater's video surveillance equipment and fled with the cash.

"We've certainly all heard of impersonation crimes before," Kohanek said. "But this time it was so in depth. He was just running with this guise for a very long time."

The man was last seen driving away in a white sedan.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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