Home NEWS Police/Fire Four In Custody After Purse-Snatch, High-Speed Getaway In Lafayette Ends In Orinda...

Four In Custody After Purse-Snatch, High-Speed Getaway In Lafayette Ends In Orinda Tuesday

Photo: LPD

Lamorinda police have detained four people who allegedly participated in the strong arm robbery of a woman at the Lafayette Starbucks store, 3343 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Tuesday, one person falling and sustaining minor injuries when he attempted to pursue their getaway vehicle on foot.

End of the road. Photo: Sandy Tan
End of the road. Photo: Sandy Tan

This incident, breaking as we write this, occurred at roughly 3:20 p.m. as two black men entered the Lafayette Starbucks outlet and made off with a woman’s purse. The victim, witnesses lost sight of the pair until it was reported that a person had been knocked down, possibly hit, by a black Dodge Charger in front of the ACE Hardware store on the eastern side of town.

That report was believed to be unrelated, though one person was slightly injured while giving initial pursuit of the suspects from the Starbucks store.

Lafayette police immediately filtered into the area and key exits out of town while a civilian motorist, believing he had seen a traffic accident involving the car and the Good Samaritan, dialed police and gave dispatchers a clear description of the car as it sped backwestbound on Highway 24 towards Orinda.

Police Chief Eric Christensen said the motorist provided an excellent description of the vehicle, which did not have a license plate, and allowed local police to key on its location.

An Orinda Parking Enforcement Officer then saw a vehicle matching the description enter and park at the Orinda Shell station with officers arriving and detaining two male and two female subjects that were found inside the vehicle.

Officers searched the area for evidence and located the initial victims’ purse in a trashcan adjacent to the pump island, Christensen said. All four were later placed under arrest for robbery and transported to the jail. All four, according to police, remain in custody with high bail amounts. They are believed to have been involved in several other similar crimes, investigators said.

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    • You are most welcome. Getting that from a lot of folks right now. Repeating: Everything cool right now, except for the four people detained by police. No active chase. It was sporty there for a minute…

  1. Love that our local police are nabbing some of these guys. I hope the word gets out that we aren’t always “soft targets.”

    • Hearing that a lot, Chris. This one started and ended super quickly. We don’t believe initial victim and good samaritan were hurt, for which we’re grateful. Lafayette and Orinda PD all over these guys…

    • Indeed… take a little break, head into Starbucks for a java and… whammo! Appears to have ended well, for all except for the bad guys.

    • Hi, OR, thanks for writing… Simple. Because as this story was being written the car and its occupants were still on the run. That information was critical to their location and resultant arrest…

  2. Thanks for the News Flash this afternoon! Always necessary to give the race of the suspects while they are fleeing – it’s the first thing alert citizens and the police will look at while trying to find the suspects. Vehicle/Race/Sex/Age/Height and Weight/Hair Color/Clothing and direction of travel. Usually in that order. Thanks again

    • You betcha, Rob. We get both sides of the argument, believe us, but when it’s active and critical to get that information out to people… we’re going to give that information. Thanks again for reading us…

  3. skin color can be important in this situation but race is useless. Especially when you call out a Hispanic supspect…I guess inferring dark brown skin but that is often not the case. Happened just a couple weeks ago where you got it wrong. I think it was a bank robbery. Stick to skin color unless you have some super secret machine that lets you identify everyone’s race.

    • Thanks for writing, BG. We’ve explained our position on this several times now but we’ll do it again: We are often writing about incidents as they are happening, often with eyewitnesses giving what information they can by cellphone, email or text and we feel it is imperative to get that information out in front of others as quickly as possible, for reasons we hope are obvious. There’s very little time to perform a DNA test on a suspected bank robber or burglar driving off at 50 mph. It would be nice if we were able to pinpoint those details but at this point in time at least we are unable to.

  4. Generally speaking, the description of suspects comes from witnesses who use their own terms and labels. The objective is identifying the perps and not on being PC. If the witness says “Hispanic” or “Black,” (or “Male” for that matter) we should interpret those using unfiltered common sense. There may be solid arguments for being willfully blind to the predictive (but imperfect) statistical probabilities associated with certain labels/groups, but in “let’s catch the bad guy ASAP” situations, can we please just use the BEST information available?

    • Right, we intend to continue with this practice, Chris, until someone comes up with that biometric identifier which can distinguish ethnic makeup instantly and without error. We acknowledge full well that people caught up in the excitement of the moment, experiencing stress or even danger, may not be able to distinguish whether a person is of East Indian or South Asian origin, North American Indian or person of Latin American ancestry.

  5. Thanks for your response. I encourage you to consider the fact that your justification above is not helped by calling out ethnicity. Skin color yes, but by calling out ethnicity you are making assumptions that are not helpful in apprehension and often serve to fuel stereotypes. Everyone has a different idea of what Hispanic skin color would be, for instance, and it honestly makes me mad that Hispanics get a bad rap every time some “white” dude with a tan gets called hispanic in these blasts that go out.

    • BG: If the witnesses in this instance had used the terms “swarthy,” or “tanned,” or “sweaty and pimply” we would have – as even-handedly as possibly – have used those descriptions. But they did not. Holding them, and by extension us, up to an unattainable standard you have imposed after the fact and which may be determined days, weeks, or even months after the fact is your right, of course, but we would and will continue to disagree.

  6. Chris: I agree we should use the best and most accurate information. Which is exactly my point. Calling out ethnicity is like using old technology. Also, just because a witness reports it doesn’t mean it has to be repeated. Your PC reference betrays your understanding.

    News: Thanks for hearing me out.

  7. It kind of all goes out the window when you can accurately describe Charlize Theron as an African-American woman. I agree with News24680 that you should report what was reported because that is based upon actual perception, but I also agree with BG that “Hispanic” means nothing to me in terms of identifying a fleeing suspect. Try ebony, milk chocolate, cafe au lait, pink, white, Irish-iridescent at the other end of the spectrum. We need something more objective, like, “look for a man with a woman’s purse running like he is in need of a fix”, “I think he was brownish”…I can work with that.

  8. Race always has and always will be a way of identifying someone. Just like gender, age, height and weight.

    ALL descriptions are “assumptions.” When you say a suspect is 6 ft., 185 lbs. you don’t know that for a fact. He could be 5’10 and 200 lbs. Nor do you know for sure if someone has brown hair. Hair could be dyed.

    If I was looking out for someone, I want to know if he or she is black, white, etc. Not light or dark skinned. There are light and dark skinned people of ALL RACES.

    Get real.

    • Morning, Teresa… so funny you say that, we were informed overnight that the person who gave chase – we believe the one who tailed this crew in her car while providing police with a description of the car and its occupants – was one of those not-so-mild-mannered middle school teachers! Loved that part…

  9. @ Danielle: I think you made our point very well. Thank you.
    From Danielle: “There are light and dark skinned people of ALL RACES.”
    What do you know that we don’t about race and color?
    And, objectively, I do feel “real”. It hurts when I pinch myself.

  10. That “black” fellow we are describing. Is he Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Arabic, a Sephardic Jew, Indian, Pakistani, Brazilian? or the most common of black fellows here, is he African American? Is he from West Africa, from Nigeria, from the Congo, from Kenya, from the highlands or the lowlands? Africa is really, really, really big. Is he from the Solomon Islands? Is he bi-racial? Is he multi-racial?

    “There are light and dark skinned people of ALL RACES.”, she writes. “I want to know if he or she is black, white, etc. Not light or dark skinned.”, she writes. I think that tells us more about your understanding of “race” than it does about how to find the guy who snatched the purse.
    What features define a “black” person to you beyond the relative darkness of the skin? Help us out here. Help me get “real”.

  11. Two things news24/680: keep the news coming, you’re doing a great job and you reporting things no one else is. And do we have to renew our flash subscriptions or do you auto renew them?

  12. We were in that area that day and wondered what was going on. We checked here when we got home and we were amazed. So glad no one was hurt

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