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Police Search for Suspects Who Targeted Montana Avenue Businesses

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By Jorge Casuso

September 5, 2023 -- Police are searching for three masked suspects and beefing up security along Montana Avenue after three stores were vandalized, with two of them broken into, early Monday morning.

The suspects -- who were wearing dark hoodies and ski masks -- were driving a dark sedan when they targeted Margot's and Bardonna restaurants and a Pinkberry franchise.

The suspects smashed windows and broke into two of the businesses, where they went through the cash registers, said Lt. Erika Aklufi, the Police Department spokesperson.

Forensics officers are using surveillance video to search "where they may have touched or handled things" looking for DNA samples, Aklufi said.

"We're tying together loose ends and looking at video to see where we are as of right know," she said Tuesday evening.

"We have a really good success rate finding these kinds of guys," Aklufi said. "They sometimes do it at other jurisdictions.

"Detectives are checking to see if there are similar incidents that tie in," she said.

Police have added patrols after hours along the Montana Avenue commercial strip in the event the suspects return or inspire copy-cat crimes.

In an unrelated incident a woman was photographed stealing clothes from a sidewalk sales rack.

Aklufi said the woman is a local transient known to police.

Burglary rose from 163 incidents during the first three months of last year to 180 this year, according to the latest crime data.

Of the 756 Part II crimes reported during the first quarter this year (up from 637 in 2022), 175 were vandalism incidents, the data show ("Theft Drives Crime Hike in Santa Monica," May 30, 2023).

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