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Trio of Women, Including Possible Mother-Daughter Team, Arrested in 'Distraction Burglaries' in Koreatown

Updated at the bottom with feedback from the family patriarch, who says they are gypsies. First posted at 4:39 p.m. on Feb. 20.

When you think of burglary crews in L.A., you almost always think of bad boys. Yeah?

But cops today say they nabbed a trio of break-in artists and, unusually, they're ladies. Not only that, but it appears two of them could be a mother-daughter team, or at least related.

Yeah, the LAPD says the three are responsible for at least two "distraction burglaries" in Koreatown last week. The trio, arrested on suspicion of burglary, included:

-41-year-old Debbie Riste (who was jailed and released on $75,000 bail, according to Sheriff's inmate information)

-22-year-old Victoria Ann Riste (jailed and released on $50,000 bail)

-40-year-old Theresa Mouto (jailed and released on $75,000 bail).

We called LAPD detectives and LAPD Media Relations but none of them could confirm whether or not the Ristes are a mother-daughter duo. (It's a holiday, complicating the effort for information.)

In any case, the department states the three were busted last Thursday after allegedly pulling off a pair of "distraction burglaries":

On February 16, 2012, around 9:00 a.m., two women knocked on the door of an apartment in the 200 900 block of South Kenmore Avenue, where a 92-year-old woman answered the door. She was told by the women that they were here to check on her damaged pipes. While the two suspects distracted the victim, a third female entered the apartment and took jewelry, clothing and money. All three then fled in a grey 1996 Honda four door sedan.

About two hours later, the same three suspects went to another residence in the 200 900 block of South 3rd Avenue and distracted an 83-year-old woman. The suspects used the same tactic to burglarize and ransack her residence.


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Cops believe the three have worked other such burglaries with male suspects.

In fact, after pulling over the Honda at Olympic and Crenshaw boulevards after the second crime that afternoon, police say they found allegedly stolen goods that might have come from other jobs.

Detectives believe that the three "may have been involved in multiple distraction burglaries around the city ... over the years."

Detectives have jewelry and other items that potential victims can come by and ID.

If you think you were hit by these ladies, cops want you to call them at (213) 382-9367. Go ahead. Don't be embarrassed.

[Update at 6:33 p.m. Feb. 28]: Antony Riste, wife of Debbie, father of Victoria, called us to proclaim his loved ones' innocence.

He says his daughter was out apartment hunting that day and has documented alibis for her whereabouts including getting a prescription filled at a pharmacy at 9 a.m. and paying for a traffic ticket at 11 a.m.

Riste says:

They never did anything wrong. I believe we were falsely arrested just because we're gypsies.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]