ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – Four suspects who allegedly ransacked a Macy’s store in Brea were arrested after calling a rideshare driver to pick them up during a wild pursuit Tuesday.
The suspects were identified as:
-Louie Velasco, from South Gate
-Jocelyn Mendoza, from Simi Valley
-Sherry Rogers, from Los Angeles
-Marlon Deleon, from Los Angeles
At around 12 p.m., the thieves were seen grabbing merchandise from the Macy’s department store at the Brea Mall. One suspect had prompted suspicion from police earlier in the day and backup was called, unbeknownst to the thieves.
As the suspects exited the store to a getaway vehicle, patrol cars had already been waiting outside. The suspects sped away from the parking lot, leading officers on a high-speed pursuit.
Police said they drove through the streets recklessly and “our officers were not able to keep up.”
They eventually stopped near Laurel Elementary School which prompted a lockdown. Thinking they had lost the police, the suspects ditched their vehicle before running into a dentist’s office across the street to hide.
That’s when the suspects decided to order a rideshare driver to pick them up.
Once inside, victims said the thieves pretended to have a medical emergency, likely to buy time before the driver’s arrival.
“We were having lunch and they came in the front door and this woman acted like she was having a heart attack,” said Dr. Brooks Larson, the dentist whose office was targeted.
“I responded, going through my emergency protocols,” he recalled. “We thought we were treating a heart attack victim but eventually she started feeling better and said, ‘Oh, I feel much better,’ and jumped out and ran out the front door.”
The suspects hopped into the awaiting rideshare car, but didn’t get far as officers quickly surrounded the vehicle.
Everyone was taken into custody before authorities later discovered the rideshare driver was not involved in the theft.
Police said rideshare drivers getting unknowingly roped into criminal schemes happens a lot more often than one would think.
“It’s not an uncommon thing for us to have that and for rideshare drivers to go through that,” said Lt. Chris Harvey with Brea police. “It’s never a pleasant experience, obviously, to have the police detain you at gunpoint and think you are a suspect of something when you’re not.”
The rideshare driver was later released.
The suspects taken into custody were arrested on multiple charges including:
-Louie Velasco – Identity theft, access card fraud, possession of drug paraphernalia, and providing false identifying information
-Jocelyn Mendoza – Theft, conspiracy, providing false identifying information, and falsely reporting an emergency
-Sherry Rogers -Theft and conspiracy
-Marlon Deleon – Theft, conspiracy, providing false identifying information, evading a police officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, possessions of drugs while armed, and multiple warrants
Earlier in the day around the time of the Macy’s theft, police received a call reporting an armed robbery of a nearby Wells Fargo bank. Arriving officers, however, couldn’t locate a victim. Authorities believe the fabricated call was an effort to draw officers away from the mall at the time.