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Los Banos police said they’ve captured five suspects in connection with two store robberies that happened within minutes of each other.
Cmdr. Jason Hedden said the total haul from JC Penney and Famous Footwear was worth about $1,700, and that all the stolen items were returned to the stores.
Police said the bandits started their April 29 crime spree about 8 p.m. at JC Penney on Pacheco Boulevard. According to police, one of the suspects was believed to have pointed a gun at a store worker to aid in the group’s escape, but authorities later determined the object was the end of a torch made to look like a gun.
Victims told police the gang of three males and two females fled in a black Dodge SUV.
While officers were taking a report on the JC Penney robbery, a call came in of a similar robbery in progress at Famous Footwear just down the street.
Police said the suspects in the second robbery matched the description of the suspects from the first, and soon officers made a vehicle stop in the area of Walter Street and Keiko Street.
Store video surveillance helped tie the five detained suspects to the crimes, police said. The alleged bandits were identified as Kobe Charles, 19, Joseph Maxwell, 42, James Robinson, 34, Caitlin Bello, 34, and Sabrina Robert, 30, all of Merced.
All five were arrested on felony charges including robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Authorities said the suspects were booked into the Los Banos Police Department Jail Facility.