Authorities Thursday sought public help to find three men who committed an armed home-invasion robbery in the unincorporated West Whittier area and may be connected to a similar subsequent crime in Cerritos, where a man was pistol-whipped.
The incident occurred at around 9:40 p.m. in the 12100 block of Washington Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
One of the victims, Celia Lujan, said she went grocery shopping earlier Wednesday evening, and did not immediately finish unloading all of the groceries. Later, she went back to the car to get water and Gatorade she had purchased.
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When she entered her house with her hands full, she heard someone tell her to stop where she was.
A group of three men, one of them armed with an assault rifle, entered the home through the open front door and told Lujan to put the groceries down before they asked her where the money was. They ransacked the couple's house and took $85 from Lujan's husband's wallet, along with $300 worth of cash and jewelry before they fled.
The couple, though shaken up, was not harmed. At one point during the robbery, the man with the gun pointed it at Lujan and threatened to kill her, she said, prompting her to get down on the floor and cover her face with her hands.
Her husband was initially back in a bedroom when the robbery happened.
Authorities stayed at the scene overnight Wednesday through Thursday morning to investigate.
The second incident occurred just after 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 4600 block of El Rancho Verde Drive in Cerritos, where deputies responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon, according to Lt. Richard Hernandez of the Cerritos Station.
"Their preliminary investigation revealed the male homeowner was working inside his garage when he was approached by one of three armed suspects, according to a sheriff's department statement.
"The victim was pistol whipped on his head and ordered to the ground as the two other suspects entered his residence."
Inside the home, the men confronted the female homeowner and ordered her to the ground.
"The two suspects began to walk towards the rear of the residence when they abruptly turned and ran out the front door out of view,'' according to the sheriff's department.
The man was treated for head injuries and the woman was unharmed, the sheriff's department reported.
"There were two children asleep inside the residence and were also unharmed,'' officials said. "No property was taken from the residence.''
In both cases, all three suspects were described as 25-30 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall with thin builds. All were wearing hoodie-type sweaters with the hoods pulled up on their heads.
Two handguns and a rifle were used in the second crime and the suspects should be considered armed and dangerous, officials said.
Anyone with information about the crimes was urged to call the Pico Rivera Station at (562) 949-2421 or Detective Richard Kiguelman at the Cerritos Station at (562) 860-0044.