A series of armed robberies of distressed motorists along Inland Empire freeways earlier this month has prompted the California Highway Patrol to form a special task force and increase early morning patrols.
The robberies all occurred in the early hours of Sept. 18 and 19. In two incidents, the robbers fired shots, though no one was hurt, authorities said.
The suspects, who remain at large, are described only as three or four men wearing hooded sweat shirts.
"There are isolated incidents where things like this happen," said CHP Officer Daniel Hesser, a spokesman for the department's Inland Division. "But something like this, where it's multiple people, obviously caught our attention."
Hesser said the incidents began about 3 a.m. Sept. 18, and over the next 2 1/2 hours the men robbed five people in disabled vehicles along Inland Empire freeways.
The next night, beginning about 2 a.m., there were two more freeway robberies.
Over the two nights, the CHP said, the men robbed motorists on the 10, 15, 60, 91 and 210 freeways.
On Sept. 19, investigators believe the men also were involved in the 2:30 a.m. robbery of a woman walking in the 900 block of East Lugonia Avenue in Redlands. An armed man in a white pickup truck pulled up alongside her and pointed a gun at her, taking her purse, according to a Redlands police report.
Fifteen minutes later, an unarmed security guard at D&R Medical Collective, a marijuana dispensary in the community of Mentone, was robbed, authorities said.
Hesser said investigators believe all the robberies were committed by the same suspects.
The vehicles they were driving were described as a red Honda, a tan Honda, a Hyundai sedan and a white, full-sized pickup truck with a utility bed and rack, according to a CHP report.
Anyone with information is asked to call the California Highway Patrol at (909) 388-8000. Tipsters also may call the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Yucaipa station at (909) 790-3105; the Redlands Police Department at (909) 798-7688; or WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.