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Police Nab Parking Booth Bandit

By Lookout Staff

July 11 -- A suspect wanted for nearly a dozen robberies of booth attendants at Downtown public parking structures over the past year was arrested Sunday night fleeing the scene of his latest crime, according to police.

The suspect -- identified as Juan Carlos Hernandez, 31, of Los Angeles -- robbed attendants at two public parking structures at around 11 p.m. before he was apprehended after fleeing down a stairwell, police said.

The undercover officers, who were assisted by uniformed patrol officers, were monitoring the parking structures in search of a suspected wanted in connection with several recent armed robberies of the parking booth attendants, said Lt. Alex Padilla, the Police Department spokesman.

The suspect already had been captured on public video cameras placed throughout the Downtown structures as part of the City’s overall safety plan, police said.

“A review of the video images from one of these public video cameras resulted in the observation of the wanted robbery suspect,” Padilla said.

A suspect matching the images captured on video was seen Sunday night walking out of Parking Structure #6, 1451 2nd Street, and the patrol officers were informed, police said.

“The parking booth attendant was contacted and confirmed that he had just been robbed,” Padilla said. “The suspect used a knife and had taken $20.”

A few minutes later, officers patrolling the area on foot saw the suspect walking away from the area of the parking booth in Parking Structure #2, 1235 2nd Street, police said.

“As the officers followed the suspect, he quickly ran down a nearby stairwell,” Padilla said. “The parking booth attendant yelled out to the officers that she had just been robbed.

“The suspect used a tire iron to take $122 from the attendant,” he said. “This robbery was also captured on the public video camera.”

On the ground floor, officers apprehended the suspect, who was positively identified by witnesses, Padilla said. Police recovered the knife and tire iron, along with the stolen money.

This suspect is believed to be responsible for a string of 11 armed robberies of the parking booth attendants that date back to July 23, 2006.

In some of these robberies, the suspect was armed with a knife, screwdriver, tire iron, or handgun.

The suspect also is responsible for the burglary of a parking booth, taking money when the attendant stepped away.

The case has been filed with the District Attorney, and Hernandez has been charged with ten counts of robbery and one count of burglary.

Hernandez is being detained at the Santa Monica Jail. Bail has been set at $50,000. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call the Santa Monica Police Department at 310.458.8427 (24 hours) or call Detectives at 310.458.8451 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (72463).







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