Mountain View Voice

News - August 12, 2011

Crime briefs

Necklace-snatchers caught

A robbery suspect was arrested on the evening of Aug. 6 after he barricaded himself in the bathroom of an apartment on Latham Street while attempting to escape pursuing officers, a spokeswoman with the Mountain View Police Department said. Two other men were arrested and charged with aiding in the robbery.

The victim, a 57-year-old Mountain View woman, was walking in the 500 block of South Rengstorff Avenue at about 4:34 p.m. when a man approached her and ripped her gold necklace from her neck, got into the back of a green Nissan Quest van and drove away, according to Liz Wylie, public information officer for the Mountain View police.

The victim called 911 about 10 minutes later, Wylie said. While she was talking to a police officer near the scene of the robbery, a green Nissan Quest van drove by; the van was promptly stopped by police officers near the intersection of Latham Street and Escuela Avenue.

The suspected robber bolted from the van. Two other men in the van — Alexander Avalos and Miguel Zamora, both age 19 — stayed put and were arrested without incident on charges of aiding the robbery, Wylie said.

The suspect was chased into an apartment complex at 1970 Latham St., Wylie said. As police searched, some residents of the complex told officers that someone had entered their apartment and locked himself in their bathroom.

Antonio Sotelo-Lozano, 18, was located with the help of a police dog and arrested without further incident, Wylie said. The victim's necklace was found in his shoe and she identified him as the one who had stolen it.

Sotelo-Lozano was also identified by a woman who had been robbed of her necklace in a similar fashion on July 30, Wylie said. In that incident, a man approached a 25-year-old woman while she walked on Villa Street, snatched her necklace and got away in a waiting pickup truck.

Sotelo-Lozano, who is from East Palo Alto, was booked into county jail on two counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of resisting or delaying an officer.

Avalos, of East Palo Alto, was arrested for one count of robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and for violating the terms of his probation, which he is serving in Santa Clara County for a prior burglary. Zamora, another East Palo Altan, was arrested for one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Wylie said that the police department "greatly appreciated" the family telling officers that Sotelo-Lozano was hiding in their bathroom. "It is not uncommon for community members to feel fearful of reporting crimes to police," Wylie said. "It is because of the brave actions of these community members that the main suspect was taken into custody safely and before any other people could become victims."

The investigation is ongoing, Wylie said, and police believe others may have been involved, as a pickup truck, not a van, was used as a getaway vehicle in the previous robbery.

"The MVPD is also concerned there may have been similar robberies that were never reported to police," said the police press release.

Another necklace July 7 robbery was reported in which a young man took a woman's necklace from her by force while she sat outside her home on Latham Street. In that incident, the robber fled on foot.

Anyone who has information on this, or was a victim of a similar robbery, is asked to contact the MVPD at 650-903-6344. People may call anonymously.

Mountain View Voice Staff

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