A group of "highly-prolific" burglars are in custody in connection with a string of crimes including "knock-knock" home burglaries across Los Angeles County and a violent home-invasion robbery in Duarte, sheriff's officials said Wednesday.
On March 4, four men pulled into the driveway of a Duarte home in a luxury SUV. One of them got into a struggle with the homeowner in the carport, while the three other men forced their way into the home, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.
Inside, the men punched and kicked the homeowner's wife as she tried to fight them off, detectives said. The men grabbed the couple's belongings from a bedroom and began to take off. A driver who had stopped in front of the home when he noticed what was going was nearly carjacked by one of the robbers.
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Surveillance video and witness accounts helped detectives identify the robbers and their SUV. In addition to the home-invasion robbery, the men were believed to be responsible for two burglaries and two attempted burglaries that same day.
The men were identified as Los Angeles residents Ronald Wayne Johnson and Dion Andre Smith, both 24, and Timothy Dwayne Johnson, 29.
The suspects are believed to be involved in numerous other residential burglaries in Los Angeles, Arcadia, Downey, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Glendora, detectives said.
"All three suspects are experienced, calculating and violent criminals, and documented South Los Angeles-area criminal street gang members," the sheriff's department said in the news release.
The fourth man has yet to be charged, deputies said.
Timothy Johnson, who is not related to Ronald Johnson, was already serving a four-year prison term in a Pasadena burglary and police pursuit case that led to his arrest four four days after the Duarte home-invasion. He faces additional charges including robbery, attempted carjacking and residential burglary, plus a criminal street terrorism act enhancement.
If convicted, he will face a maximum prison sentence of more than 180 years.
On June 14, Ronald Johnson was arrested at Los Angeles Airport Courthouse, where he was appearing on another residential burglary charge from a recent arrest by Beverly Hills police, detectives said. He faces 13 new charges including burglary and robbery, along with a criminal street terrorism act enhancement. If convincted, he could receive a maximum sentence of more than 200 years. He is being held in lieu of $1.42 million bail.
On March 18, Smith was arrested. Charges filed against him include robbery, attempted carjacking and residential burglary, plus a criminal street terrorism act enhancement. He faces a maximum prison sentence of more than 165 years if convicted. He is being held on $1.04 million bail.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell advises homeowners not to ignore a suspicious knock at the door.
"If you hear a knock don't just stay quiet inside the house," McDonnell said. "Acknowledge it, let them know you're there and you're not interested in whatever it is they're selling."