Thursday, September 24, 2009
Two Women Arrested after Thelma and Louise-Type Crime Spree Police Encourage Any Other Victims to Come Forward NR09456pvLos Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has released the photographs of two women who were charged last week in a six-day-long spree of robberies, burglaries, and assorted other crimes, which spread from downtown Los Angeles to Venice Beach.
Myra Lopez, who is 34, and 25-year-old Latascha Bulmer met at the Chowchilla Women's prison. In mid-August this year, both women were paroled to finish their sentences at the Walden House in El Monte, Calif. Lopez was doing time for robbery and Bulmer for auto theft.
"Apparently the duo walked away from Walden House over the Labor Day weekend," said Captain
Blake Chow, commanding officer of the LAPD Central Division station. "We now know their crime spree apparently started with stealing a Cadillac Escalade from a man on September 8, but the first crime reported to our detectives was September 12, 2009."
That victim was a woman who stopped for lunch at a McDonald's restaurant at 7th and Alameda Streets, south of downtown Los Angeles. Using their signature mode of operation, Bulmer walked up to the victim in her Mazda minivan and asked for money. Now distracted, the victim didn't notice Lopez, who shoved a hard object against her side as Bulmer pulled the victim from the van. LAPD Officers Tony Gutierrez and Chelsea Krawczyk (pronounced: Kraw-check) completed the carjacking report, describing the two tattooed women.
Then at 3p.m. the same day, two women knocked down another woman to take her purse near a carwash at Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Only the intervention of a good Samaritan kept the suspects from getting away with the stolen money. Another person also saw the getaway car, a silver minivan, and sent a text tip into LAPD. Officers Gutierrez and Krawczyk realized the connection and made it their personal goal to capture the Thelma-and-Louise duo.
"We encourage officers to do more than just take crime reports," Captain Chow said. "Gutierrez and Krawczyk recognized the crime spree quickly. Maybe one in 100 crimes involve women as perpetrators. So the officers knew this pair would really stand out."
Over the next two days, the officers drove a SMART car, a high-tech police car equipped with a license plate scanner, and looked for the silver minivan in-between answering radio calls. Detectives brought in victims and prepared a composite sketch of what turned out to be Myra Lopez, and contacted neighboring police stations.
Two days later, around 10 a.m., Gutierrez and Krawczyk noticed a silver minivan near 6th Street and Towne Avenue in Skid Row. The driver resembled a man at first, then the police car's license plate reader reported the plate on the van was stolen, matching a GMC van. The officers stopped the van only to discover the driver was actually a woman, Myra Lopez, and the minivan was the one officers had hoped to find.
"The minivan was a treasure chest of stolen loot," said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of LAPD Central Division Detectives. "We found identification and stolen property that implicated Lopez and her partner in robberies in Venice and Northeast, but the biggest haul was only one hour old."
Officers found computers and a jewelry box filled with Mexican silver, and Lopez was wearing diamond earrings, all taken one hour before in a burglary two miles away in Angelino Heights. "The home owner was amazed at how efficient the police department was at solving burglaries," said Lt. Vernon.
The van's contents also revealed the extent of Lopez' and Bulmer's activities: a Costco card from a women robbed in Venice on September 8; the stolen license plate that was taken September 13 from a van in Venice; and Hebrew-language CDs from a woman robbed on Berkeley Avenue in Silverlake on September 14.
"The woman had her 4-year-old with her when Lopez held a box cutter to the mother's throat and demanded her car keys," Lt. Vernon added. "We found a box cutter on Lopez when she was arrested."
While Lopez was not talking, detectives were able to identify her partner in crime through the parole agent assigned to Walden House in El Monte. "The parole agent knew right away when we mentioned Lopez that we were also looking for Latascha Bulmer," Lt. Vernon confirmed.
After distributing a wanted poster, officers found Bulmer walking on Skid Row. When they arrested her, she had more credit cards in her sock belonging to another woman robbed on September 13 in the
4000 block of Washington Boulevard, just one hour after the botched robbery at the carwash.
"As best we can tell, the spree began with the taking of a black Escalade on September 8," said
Lt. Vernon. "We know that SUV was used in the crimes committed in Venice, but somehow the owner got his SUV back and has yet to make a theft report. We've released the women's booking photos expecting there may be other victims or even a more serious crime."
"This crime spree ended quickly thanks to the officers, detectives and parole agent's tenacious work, and the help of new technology like the SMART cars and text tips," said Captain Chow. "Such efforts have kept crime declining, already down nearly eight percent in downtown this year."
Lopez and Bulmer are being held without bail, both charged with four counts of robbery and one of carjacking. Lopez was also charged with residential burglary.
Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD Central Division robbery detectives at 213-972-1248. After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text "crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD." Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Photographs of Lopez and Bulmer are available from media relations and being disseminated with this release.