Series of armed robberies in East Bay might be related, police say


CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KRON/BCN) —¬†Investigators say several armed robbers throughout Contra Costa County might be connected.

This includes the high-profile robbery and shooting of an Orinda school board member last week.

Police officials in Antioch, Pittsburg and Orinda confirmed Monday that they are looking into the possibility that these crimes might be part of a series of at least six similar robberies committed across the county over the course of four days last week.

The similarity between these cases “certainly has not gone unnoticed here,” Orinda police Chief Mark Nagel said. “Communication between our agencies absolutely has taken place.”

All of the robberies involved two armed men who approached their victims just after they had pulled up to their homes or into their own driveways. In two of the cases, the suspects were spotted driving off in a white sedan and twice the suspects shot at their victims.

In the Antioch case, police are looking for two men they say robbed a female victim at gunpoint Wednesday in front of her own home.

The victim, who was driving, and another female resident had just pulled into their driveway in the 3100 block of Ashley Way at about 9:30 p.m.

As she was getting out of her car, two men approached and demanded her purse, which she handed over, according to Antioch police.

The men where wearing hooded sweatshirts with the drawstrings pulled tight to cover their faces. They fled in a white sedan and the entire incident was caught on video, police said. “We’re looking at (all the cases) to see if they’re related,” Antioch police Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann said. “They all came in pretty close relative in time to each other.”

In Pittsburg, about an hour after the Antioch robbery on Wednesday, a husband and wife were robbed by two men while parked in their own driveway in the 2300 block of Fieldgate Drive, Pittsburg police Capt. Ron Ramen said.

Pittsburg officers are working closely with other agencies to determine if the cases are related, Ramen said.

Again that same night, at about 11:30 p.m., a man in unincorporated Danville was robbed and carjacked in his own garage by two armed men. One suspect escaped with the victim’s 2014 Honda Pilot while the
other fled in a white sedan, which is similar to the vehicle description given in the Antioch case, according to police.

The Pilot was later found abandoned in Oakland. On Thursday, two armed men wearing gray hooded sweatshirts and dark pants robbed a teen girl of her purse just after she pulled into her own driveway on Holly Oak Court in Brentwood.

In most of these robberies, no shots were fired and nobody was hurt. In the Orinda case, however, and in a similar driveway hold-up in Pinole on Sept. 27, the suspects opened fire on their victims.

The husband and wife victims of the Pinole attack were not hurt, but Orinda Unified School District board vice president Carol Brown was shot and her husband, Tom Spalding, was pistol-whipped during the Sept. 26 attack.

Both victims are expected to recover.

Nagel said it’s early in the investigation and it’s still unclear what, if any, connection these crimes have.

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