Takeover robbery at El Cerrito restaurant

August 27, 2008 11:58:21 AM PDT
El Cerrito police may have a break in the investigation into the Bay Area's latest takeover robbery. They may have a face to go with the crime that happened at a restaurant late Tuesday night.

While El Cerrito police have no surveillance video to work with - they do have witness descriptions of one of the robbery suspects and hopefully a good one, because one of the young men involved did not bother to cover his face. Now police are just working to complete a sketch and release it to the public.

Click here for a map of armed robberies around the Bay Area

"It's too near, and it's scary," said Sujit Singh, store clerk.

'Too close for comfort' - that's how liquor store worker Sujit Singh felt when he heard about Tuesday night's robbery of a Chinese restaurant a block down the street. El Cerrito police say the takeover happened at 9:15 at the Yuet Foo Seafood Restaurant on San Pablo Avenue. Two men worked together on it, commanding a couple of customers and the two owners to comply.

"One of them displayed a handgun and removed cash from business, as well as cash and a cell phone from two patrons," said Cmdr. Michael Regan, El Cerrito police department.

With $400 cash in hand, witnesses watched the suspects run off toward the Richmond annex area, where police believe there may have been a getaway car. Since only one man wore a ski mask, detectives are hoping to get a useful sketch of the other suspect. They also plan to compare crime details with law enforcement from several other Bay Area cities recently targeted with takeover robberies.

"To compare suspect descriptions and their actions once they entered the store as a means of comparing robberies with other jurisdictions," said Regan.

While this Chinese restaurant did not have a surveillance camera, El Cerrito police say they'll be looking for any possible images captured on other business' cameras. They may luck out since last year the city passed an ordinance requiring certain businesses to install security cameras to help fight crime. Those that must comply include fast food restaurants, shopping centers, banks and convenience stores, but these businesses don't have to comply until October 31st.

Because of all the recent takeover robberies happening around the Bay Area from Oakland to Vallejo, Daly City, San Jose and Hayward; El Cerrito police say they actually stepped up patrols in the city's businesses area, in anticipation that this crime string may come to El Cerrito. Unfortunately it has and investigators want to find out if there are any connections.


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