Suspects charged in a series of heists reportedly cut a hole in the roof of a Diamond Bar bank to rob it.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had a press conference Wednesday morning and unveiled additional details surrounding the arrest of five Inland Empire men suspected of breaking into bank vaults in Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights.
Laurentiu Penescu, a 38-year-old Yucaipa man, 32-year-old Lucian Isaia of Beaumont, Alceu Andreis, 44, a Banning resident, Dean Andrew Muniz, a 45-year-old Fontana man, and Daniel Soto, a 36-year-old Riverside man, were arrested Friday and booked at the Walnut Sheriff’s Station. Each suspect was held on $500,000, except for Soto, whose bail was set at $3 million.
The five defendants were arraigned in Pomona Superior Court Tuesday and charged with several counts of burglary, conspiracy, grand theft, and vandalism, officials said.
The Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives arrested the suspects Friday morning after the alleged burglars cut a hole in the roof of the CITIBANK at Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue, authorities said. The suspects reportedly climbed ladders to get on the roof and used power tools to cut through the roof of the bank, giving them access to a cement vault inside.
The suspects used handheld radios to communicate with one of the men who acted as a lookout, authorities said. The men wore matching uniforms, including shoes, and reportedly rode in a van with the license plate removed.
On the morning of the arrest, detectives did surveillance of the suspects and when they left the bank, the crew was arrested. Deputies from the Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s station, the Sheriff’s Canine Unit, and the Major Crimes Bureau all participated in the bust.
Evidence recovered included a portion of the bank’s roof, roofing material, two-way radios, tools, gloves, and ski masks, authorities said.
Detectives started their investigation following a bank burglary in August 2011 and have been watching the crew for a year. The five men are believed to be responsible for at least three similar bank jobs in Diamond and Rowland Heights, with losses from previous crimes estimated to be in the millions, according to Sheriff’s investigators.
“These are not your typical burglars,” commented Lt. Kent Wegener of the Major Crimes Bureau. “They showed some sophistication in their planning and the execution of the actual crime. Our team of detectives worked long and hard to put a stop to their crime series.”
Following the arrests, sixty Sheriff’s deputies served search warrants at seven homes in Banning, Beaumont, Yucaipa, Fontana, and Riverside. Investigators seized 12 high-end cars and trucks, a 24-foot powerboat, seven Ducati motorcycles, several firearms, money, and jewelry from the residences.
Detects also recovered around $30,000.
“This is a shining example of the hard work and dedication that these detectives do every day,” Sheriff Lee Baca said.