Six suspects free for theft of armored cars in the Los Angeles area
A group of heavily armed robbers dubbed the “Chesapeake Bandits” are behind a string of burglaries targeting armored cars in the Los Angeles area, and authorities recently apprehended one of the ringleaders, announced Thursday the FBI and the local police.
Federal prosecutors have charged two of the prime suspects involved in the five armed robberies, which resulted in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars, authorities said. Deneyvous Hobson, 36, and James Russell Davis, 34, face charges of theft and conspiracy. Hobson was arrested Feb. 21, while Davis remains a fugitive. At least five other people believed to be part of the group are also still at large.
“The defendants in this case and the other co-conspirators are heavily armed and pointed their guns at the victims,” who in each case were security guards, US Atty. Martin Estrada said during a press conference at the FBI’s Los Angeles headquarters in Westwood.
Estrada said during a heist “a gun was discharged” by a suspect believed to be Hobson. Video of one of the heists shows the masked bandits welding an AR-style rifle with a short barrel, optical sight and large extended magazine.
The bandits forced the security guards to the ground at gunpoint, tied them up and grabbed the money bags before fleeing. At least five other people are believed to be among the Chesapeake Bandits, a name given to the group because investigators say they carefully planned the heists at a house named Chesapeake Avenue in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said detectives investigating armored car thefts found links between crimes at various banks last year in Hawthorne, Inglewood and Los Angeles.
Moore said the LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division worked with investigators from other agencies to “reconstruct” the identities of some of those behind the robberies, which were carried out in broad daylight.
“No guards or employees have been harmed to date, but when you look at the tactics used here, someone has compared them to the movies,” he said.
Donald Alway, FBI deputy director in charge of the Los Angeles bureau, said the bandits would conduct advanced surveillance at the scene, using multiple vehicles and personnel. The group had drivers who would remain in their vehicles during the flights, he said.
Three weeks before the first heist at a credit union bank in Hawthorne, two suspects believed to be Hobson and Davis were seen in a white Chevrolet Tahoe “for about an hour while a future victim, JG – a Sectran Security , Inc., armored car driver – parked his armored car and collected cash” from ATMs, according to the criminal complaint.
A bank employee noticed the men and the suspicious activity and called the police. A police officer interviewed the two men, and they provided identification, and both had the same address on Chesapeake Avenue, according to the affidavit filed with the complaint.
“Three weeks later, to the day – and almost exactly the same minute … JG was robbed while collecting cash from the same ATMs,” said Elizabeth Cardenas, an FBI special agent, in the affidavit.
The suspects were three men who used what appeared to be an AR-15 and a handgun and during the flight, authorities said. They stole the guard’s gun and about $100,000.
The crew allegedly pulled off a similar heist about half a mile away in Inglewood on June 9, stealing nearly $93,000, authorities said. A vehicle matching Davis’ Tahoe was “seen leading a getaway car within 30 minutes of the theft on a nearby Ring camera.”
According to court records, Hobson was previously convicted of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, while Davis was convicted of receiving and possessing burglary tools.
At least five other people are believed to be among the Chesapeake Bandits, but they have not yet been identified. Surveillance photos of Unknown Subjects can be found here: WantedUnknownSubjects
Anyone who might recognize a suspect’s clothing or have overheard someone talking about their involvement is urged to call the FBI with a tip. A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered by the FBI in exchange for information leading to an arrest in this case.
Los Angeles Times