Police Bust Robbery Suspects Who Impersonated Police

May 22, 2009

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Police Department detectives arrested three suspects who used a scheme to impersonate a police officer and rob victims throughout the Los Angeles area.  A fourth woman got away.  Police have her name and they are searching for her.

Investigators say 38-year-old Tony John, 42-year-old Shiela Yonka were apprehended at their homes and charged with robbery.  32-year-old Sofia Davis, a parolee, was arrested at her parole agent’s office.  All three suspects are from the Van Nuys area.
The robbers are believed to be responsible for seven robberies that occurred during the months of April and May 2009.  According to detectives, the bandits would approach the victim, identify themselves as undercover narcotic officers and asked the victim if they had any type of drugs.   The suspects would also walk up to a person and detain them.  After they detained the individual, the suspects would flash a police badge, rob the victim of their property and drive off.

During a May 5 robbery, a witness provided police with a partial license plate number of the suspect’s getaway car which led to several leads and the arrest of the trio.

The robbers have been involved in the following incidents:

•        May 5, 2009, at 6:30 p.m., a man was walking on Western Avenue and Melrose Boulevard, when he was approached by three suspects.  One of the suspects showed him a badge, identified himself as a narcotic officer, and took the victim’s property.

•        May 5, 2009, at 6:45 p.m., a 93-year-old woman was walking near 3rd Street and Van Ness Avenue, when two suspects pulled alongside of her in a white vehicle.  The suspects posed as police officers, ordered the victim to get inside their vehicle and drove her to her residence.  Once inside the residence, the suspect removed the victim’s property and fled.

•        May 5, 2009, at 7:00 p.m., a man was walking near Francis and Westmoreland Avenues, when he was approached by two suspects who flashed a police badge and identified themselves as police officers.  The suspects ordered the victim to turn around and stole his wallet.

•        May 5, 2009, at 8:00 p.m., a man walking in the vicinity of Victory Boulevard and Hazeltine Avenue, when two suspects approached him in white vehicle.  The suspects identified themselves as detectives and told the victim that they wanted to speak with him.  The victim did not believe that suspects were detectives and walked away.

•        May 5, 2009, at 8:30 p.m., a man was walking on Sherman Way and Hazeltine Avenue, when he was approached by two suspects posing as narcotic officers.  The suspects ordered the victim to hand over his wallet and accused the man of being a drug dealer.  The suspects took the victim’s wallet and drove off.

•        April 12, 2009, at 7:45 a.m., a group of individuals were walking on Lexington Avenue and Gordon Street, when two suspects walked up to them and produced a police badge.  The suspects ordered the individuals to turn around.  The suspects told the group they were conducting a search for narcotics and stole their property.

•        April 12, 2009, at 8:00 a.m., two suspects approached a man walking in the area of Cerritos Place and Wilcox Avenue, displayed a police badge and told him they were conducting a narcotic investigation.  The suspect ordered the victim to turn around, took his money and fled in a vehicle.  

Anyone with information regarding these robberies is asked to call Olympic Robbery Detectives at 213-382-9460.  After hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 or by texting CRIMES (274637) and beginning the message with the letters LAPD.  Tipsters may also submit information on the LAPD website www.lapdonline.org.  All tips will remain anonymous.