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Calif. Police Warn of Distraction Calls Before Crimes

March 07, 2012  | 

Bank surveillance images show the suspect in a Feb. 29 robbery. Photos: Chino PD
Bank surveillance images show the suspect in a Feb. 29 robbery. Photos: Chino PD

A phone call likely meant to distract police before a bank robbery in Chino, Calif., in late February may signal a new trend in criminal activity, according to investigators on the case.

Investigators with the Chino Police Department and FBI, during a Wednesday press conference, released audio of the call and warned other law enforcement agencies about false bomb threats. The calls are meant to drive police personnel away from crime targets, Lt. Wes Simmons told POLICE Magazine.

"The distraction call was meant to get our personnel to a different location to free them up to commit crime somewhere else," Lt. Simmons said. "For us it's unique. We don't receive bomb threats very often."

This call came in to the city's dispatch center from a pay phone at 10:17 a.m. on Feb. 29. The caller reported a bomb at a business in the far southern end of the city and added, "This is not a drill. Do you hear me? There's a bomb and I will explode it."

Several minutes later, a man donning body armor, wearing a ski mask, and toting an AK-47 assault rifle entered the mid-city California Bank and Trust at 5455 Riverside Drive. After exiting the bank at 10:52 a.m., the suspect opened fire on a Chino police officer who was passing the bank while on patrol. He was using a 100-round ammunition magazine.

Several rounds struck the cruiser, and one projectile also hit the officer. The officer was able to drive himself to Chino Valley Medical Center for treatment.

The suspect fled the scene in a dark grey Nissan Maxima sedan with tinted windows and an Arizona license plate. The FBI is offering up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect, who is described as white and 25-40 years old with a stocky build. Police believe the suspect placed the call.

"We are continuing to ask for the public's assistance in this important matter," said Chino Police Chief Miles Pruitt in a statement. "This suspect will be brought to justice with your help."

By Paul Clinton

Related:

Manhunt Underway for Bank Robber who Shot Calif. Cop with AK-47

Tags: California, Bank Robberies, FBI


Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Mike Duffy @ 3/7/2012 7:24 PM

This incident may signal a possible recent trend in calls being placed to divert police away from specific crime targets, but it is not new. Veteran law emforcement officers throughout California and across the country remember all to well the events surrounding the Norco Bank Robbery which occurred on May 9, 1980. This bank robbery took place in the City of Norco, CA. which borders Chino, CA., and will be chronicled as one of the most violent and deadliest pursuits in U.S. history. In the Norco Bank Robbery, the suspects actually placed an IED at a gasio main a few blocks away to facilitate a diversion. However, the device was discovered and failed. There are many similarities surrounding these two incidents. Let us hope we continue to study and learn from history so that we never repeat it.

TripWire @ 3/7/2012 8:48 PM

What is a "Battle Rifle"?

Stan @ 3/7/2012 10:28 PM

New trend.... either we are a head of the curve or your criminals are slow we have been having diversion calls for a number of years in my neck of the woods.

Tony @ 3/8/2012 5:51 AM

This is new??? This was happening in the 70's in San Diego, and probably since telephones became widely used..

John @ 3/8/2012 6:23 AM

It happened to us in the 70's a call about a plane crash on the east side of Austin MN and the bank robbery on the west side. They aren't getting much smarter.

Rick @ 3/8/2012 9:27 AM

Time for CA to loosen up on concealed carry for citizens. The more armed citizens there are, the less crime happens. The banks in Cali also need to adopt better security measures like in Florida where they have bullet proof glass in front of the teller windows.

Tom @ 3/8/2012 12:09 PM

Truer words are rarely spoken, Rick.

Rad @ 3/8/2012 4:08 PM

We had this happen about a year ago...a guy called in a possible bank robbery on one side of town, everyone goes screaming over there, then robs another bank on the opposite side of town. His downfall was making the call from a prepaid cell phone he bought at a Walmart in a town where he did the same thing a couple days prior. Made the call at rush hour too, when the roads will full of people and banks were getting ready to close for the day.

Brent Thornton @ 3/8/2012 7:34 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if its a cop. The way he's wearing his ballistic vest, white with no tattoos, and the car- if its not stolen, given that it woulda been known the reach of the cameras - thats a cops car. No criminal would steal a car like that to do dirt with. You steal a hoopty, an old Honda accord or something like that. Anyone with enough sand to plan this out is not going to commit a gta to then commit an armed robbery.

$20 says its a cop. Any takers?

darkh2ocop @ 3/8/2012 10:31 PM

Late one night A Mustang was stolen, And reported stolen. Next day Bomb threat at the county H.S. called in from a pay phone. 15 minutes latter bank robbery twenty miles from the H.S. Five minutes latter burning car on back road. Same people? You bet! Over Five years ago in a rural county. What got them? Their mouth!

And a "Battle Rifle" The US Army uses the M-4 as there main Battle Rifle now. It's just a shortened AR. Still junk!!

joe @ 3/9/2012 7:39 PM

hes holding a modified AK, probably an AK74...... and the army uses m4s, the marine corps m16a4 and m4s

JC @ 3/17/2012 6:49 PM

Brent T. ---

A cop? Well... It maybe, but a civilian getting a ballistics vest isn't exactly rocket science these days. Also: Robbing a bank is one thing. SHOOTING at an officer with an AK is another thing, entirely. ..if it was an active LEO, I'd be damned if he isn't figured out at work, as he would have gone completely off the deep end. ...And as for the car - doesn't take a genius to steal a newer car, as an older "hoopty" attracts attention and can look very out of place.. ...Heck, borrow your friends car to do the job? Break into someone's house, steal the keys... We've had people break into houses of vacationers, steal their keys and cars, commit other crimes, then return the cars.

My money says it's not an (active) LEO. You're on for the $20 ;)

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