Five suspects are in custody in Northern California for crimes that may be tied to a string of robberies in the Central Valley. Two suspects are adults, three are juveniles. Jamaul and Justina Baker, one 15-year-old and two 14-year-olds were arrested Wednesday night after allegedly robbing a hotel and convenience store in Placer County.
Most of the victims up and down the state had similar stories. A trio of masked robbers march into hotels and demand money. Sometimes they become violent. Eight hotels in the Central Valley and over a dozen in the state were hit. Now the crime spree appears to be over.
Surveillance video catches a recent hotel robbery in Kingsburg. A suspect, with a handgun, climbs over the counter and steals the cash drawer. In other cases, the crime turns violent. A Firebaugh Best Western worker was punched in the face. She spoke to CBS47 on the condition of anonymity.
“He told me open this, open this… I told him ‘I don't have the key,’ and that's when he hit me in the face,” said the hotel clerk.
In less than a week, robbers hit eight hotels and motels in the Central Valley: Two in Fresno off the 99, then down the freeway to Selma and Kingsburg. Over to the I-5, places in Coalinga, Firebaugh, Santa Nella and Patterson are robbed.
“I was really worried for my clerks. I just wanted to make sure that they were safe and just really concerned cause it's never happened here before,” said Melissa Hass Teufel, General Manager of Travelodge in Coalinga.
The rash of robberies continue in Northern California. The La Quinta in Davis, an Auburn Comfort Inn and then a convenience store. But Wednesday night the suspects are caught while pulling into yet another hotel in Auburn.
“Followed it down and as it was going down the freeway, called in for backup,” said Sgt. Alfredo Guitron of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department.
One hotel patron is glad the suspects are off the street.
“Heck yeah. I hope that's where they stay,” said Walter Hulley, who’s staying at a motel in Fresno.
Hulley is baffled that a brazen, violent, crime spree went on so long, targeting places that may not always have copious amounts of cash on hand.
“They can rob a bank and get more than a hotel. If you're going to rob something, might as well go big,” said Hulley.
Local law enforcement has not definitively said the suspects arrested in Placer County are the same ones who hit hotels here, but we do know different agencies are talking to each other to possibly connect the dots.