UPDATE at 4:14 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, 2016: Police have made an arrest. See details below. First posted at 4:31 p.m. on May 20, 2016.
A group of robbers using a late-model white Mercedes has been targeting a decidedly low-end demographic: immigrant gardeners.
That is what the Los Angeles Police Department alleges.
Multiple thugs use a semiautomatic handgun and demand money from gardeners who have been working at residences in the LAPD's 77th Division area of South L.A., cops say. It has happened at least eight times in the city since March 18, the department said in a statement.
In fact, as we were speaking to Det. E. Robledo, he notified us that the ninth such robbery appeared to have just occurred this afternoon on 67th Street near the Los Angeles border with Inglewood.
Inglewood police have reported five similar incidents, which LAPD investigators believe involve some of the same suspects, he said.
Why are gardeners, the salt of the earth (except when they're aiming a leaf blower in your direction), being targeted, you ask?
In a word, cash.
"They realize these individuals are carrying cash at the end of the day and they're targeting them because of that," Robledo said. "You'd be surprised at the amount of money they're taking. It ranges anywhere from $200 to $500."
"In one instance," the detective said, "they took their truck and all the equipment in it, which tallied up to $5,000."
The victims were described by Robledo as Latino immigrants.
The suspects are in their mid-20s and have also fled on foot, police said. The Mercedes is white or something close to that and had four doors, Robledo said. The LAPD stated that the suspects should be considered armed and dangerous.
Investigators believe there are probably even more such robberies that have not been reported because of language and cultural barriers.
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If you know who the bad guys are, LAPD detectives would like to hear from you: 323-786-5422 or 877-527-3247.
UPDATE at 4:14 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, 2016: Police say they have a suspect.
"Aaron Deon Seymour, a 34-year-old resident of Los Angeles, was booked for robbery, 211 PC, and is currently being held without bail," the LAPD said in a statement today.
It would appear that other suspects are still outstanding.