Police Track Down Robbery Suspects After City Worker Tip

By Lookout Staff

With the help of a city worker, police successfully tracked down in Culver City the suspects in two robberies that occurred early Monday morning in Malibu and Santa Monica, according to police.

The four suspects turned themselves in after a routine traffic stop by Santa Monica police, according to Lt. Gary Gallinot, the department's spokesman. The officers had followed them to Culver City after a city traffic worker matched the vehicle to a description broadcast on the police radio.

Police confiscated an "authentic-looking plastic replica of a handgun" and a green Pontiac Transport van stolen from Santa Paula, in Ventura County, Gallinot said. The suspects - all of them from Ventura County - were taken into custody.

They were identified as Venessa Velasquez, 18, of Oxnard; Jose Rodriguez, 18, of Santa Paula; a 17-yearold Hispanic male from Santa Paula and a 15-year-old Hispanic male from Oxnard. Velasquez and Rodriguez were booked for robbery and grand theft. Bail has been set at $50,000 each. The two minors were sent to Juvenile Hall.

The first robbery occurred at 5 a.m. on the 23000 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, where two suspects simulating a handgun held up a male victim then fled in a van, Gallinot said. County sheriffs then notified Santa Monica Police that the vehicle was headed southbound.

At 6:20 a.m., police received a report of a second robbery on the 700 block of California Avenue, where one suspect pushed a 70-year-old woman to the ground and took her purse, Gallinot said. The suspect left in the same van, throwing the purse out the window.

A city traffic worker then spotted the vehicle headed on San Vicente Boulevard towards Bundy Avenue. Police picked up the van on Wishire Boulevard and Federal Avenue and followed it at a distance, Gallinot said. "There was no pursuit," he said.

Police pulled the van over at Washington Boulevard and Sawtelle Street, where the suspects were apprehended without incident, Gallinot said.