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Eleven Arrested for CA Jewelry Store Robberies

Nov 17, 2009 9:02 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Eleven defendants were charged with the armed robberies of two jewelry stores in Orange County, California, as well as identity theft and street terrorism. The grand jury transcripts released yesterday described the 20-count indictment issued October 26, 2009 against the defendants, all of whom were residents of neighboring San Diego County.

Aida Arroyo, 27, now being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, was accused of entering Tustin Village Jewelers on August 4 under the pretense of selling a ring. While negotiating a price with the store owner, Arroyo asked to be buzzed out of the store to make a phone call, but as the owner opened the security doors, Adam Weick, 28, currently being held in lieu of $200,000 bail, and Michael Dennis Burgin, 30, being held in lieu of $1 million bail, rushed the doors and forced the owner to unlock his jewelry cases at gunpoint in order to obtain access to the store's diamonds. The defendants were accused of duct-taping the owner and putting him in the bathroom. Burgin, Weick and Arroyo were also accused of stealing more than $160,000 in jewelry and then fleeing the scene.

On August 25, at Baca Jewelers in Laguna Beach, Alonso Jose Lopez, 31, and Pedro Avina Hernandez, 29, both of whom are now being in lieu of $1 million bail, as well as the aforementioned Burgin, were accused of robbing a store employee at gunpoint while attempting to hide their faces by wearing hoods and baseball caps. The trio was accused of stealing more than $1 million in watches and jewelry before fleeing the scene. In this case, the men also stand accused of leading police on a pursuit into neighboring Aliso Viejo, where they abandoned their car and evaded police.

The car was owned by Sylvia Elena Castaneda, 28, who is accused of impeding a police investigation by reporting her car as stolen when, instead, she'd loaned it to the men to use for the robbery. She, too, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Arturo Carlos Perez, 21, is accused of being an accessory after the fact in evading arrest, acting as a look-out and obtaining a calling card for Lopez to make phone calls that could not be traced. He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Subsequent investigations by police revealed that two second-hand jewelry stores in San Diego County, San Diego Jewelry and Loan and J&L Jewelers, were selling some of the stolen jewelry from the robbed Tustin and Laguna Beach stores. Jose Jesus Garcia, 35, was accused of attempting to make the stolen goods difficult to identify by grinding off their markings and posted bail of $20,000. Touradj Barman, 66, stands accused of knowingly purchasing stolen property and is being held in lieu of $75,00 bail.

Salvador Barajas, 29, and  Daisy Oregon, 21, were charged with receiving stolen property and street terrorism, with both currently being held in lieu of $75,000 bails. All of the defendants, except for Barman and Garcia, were accused of being members or associates of a criminal San Diego street gang and of planning and committing these crimes to benefit the gang. The majority of the stolen property has not been recovered.

An investigation to determine whether the defendants were involved in other Orange and San Diego County jewelry store robberies is underway.


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Tags: Jewelry, Robberies
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