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More than 20 robberies in Lancaster area linked to one group of suspects, LASD says

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities released alarming information on a series of crimes in the Lancaster area in which they say more than 100 cars were stolen, businesses were robbed and two store clerks were shot.

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives held a press conference Tuesday morning, alerting the public of recent armed robberies, some of which occurred in a span of several days.

Lancaster Sheriff's Station Det. Benjamin Casebolt said his department believes a "large group of young males" has been coordinating together to commit these robberies.

He said most of the time, group members, who are believed to be about 18 or younger, coordinate with one another via text or social media. They meet up at one place and split up from there, according to Casebolt. Many of the suspects are believed to be from the Lancaster area.

Casebolt said since April, detectives have been able to link at least 20 robberies to the group.

He said in two of the robberies, clerks were shot.

"Many of the times, hundreds of dollars in cash that's stolen and in each of these robberies, a stolen car was used," he said.

Casebolt said in the last month, at least 150 vehicles - mostly Hyundais and Kias - have been stolen. Authorities believe those cars are being used in the robberies.

"We have made multiple arrests and in each of those arrests, a firearm was recovered from the suspect that was arrested," Casebolt said.

In one armed robbery, which occurred on May 5 at a Chevron gas station on 4th Street East and Avenue L, Casebolt said the clerk tried to take back some of the items that were being stolen and was "shot point blank in the face."

The clerk is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

The second armed robbery happened on Wednesday, May 17, at liquor store on Beech Avenue.

"The clerk fought back there and was shot in the back," said Casebolt.

LASD has made arrests in both of those cases but they are still looking for additional suspects.

"They're stealing cars and using those cars in robberies," said Casebolt. "Once they're done with the robbery, they'll either leave it in a city street or they'll even sell it to a tow yard or someone that's willing to buy it without looking into validity of the car."

Another robbery was reported on Monday at a Pizza Hut.

Casebolt said in total, five suspects have been arrested so far, but more remain at large.

"Be very aware of your surroundings, these kids are looking for easy targets," said Casebolt. "It appears they're casing maybe days beforehand. They're looking for someone who is easily victimized. If you are a business owner, you can refuse business to anyone. If you see large groups congregating outside of your busness, you can close the door, you can lock it if you feel threatened in any way."

Anyone with information is urged to contact authorities.


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