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Los Alamitos: Tunneling Burglars, Road Rage and Police Blotter

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Burglars Tunnel Through Walls to Los Alamitos Businesses


Kicking in a door, picking a lock or smashing a window are all old burglary standbys.

But tunneling through a wall? Not as popular.

In at least three separate instances this summer, burglars dug into the walls of local businesses, according to witnesses and the Los Alamitos Police Department.

Suspects hit a marketing research company, a jewelry store and a nail salon. In the salon incident, a suspect (or suspects) also tried to tunnel into a diner, but only made it partially through the wall.

A city police spokesman said there doesn’t appear to be any connection between the three incidents.

“I guess it’s possible,” said Capt. Bruce McAlpine. “We’re not really sure right now.”

The first of the three Los Alamitos incidents took place July 14 at 11021 Winners Circle, according to McAlpine.

Starting in the women’s restroom of the office complex, suspects tunneled into Cal Coast Insurance, and from there into an adjoining business called Applied Research, which does marketing research.

Although both offices were ransacked, the only loss reported was a computer monitor and computer processor from the insurance business.

Police responded to the scene after a burglary alarm went off at about 7:42 p.m.

A red Chevy Silverado truck was seen near the location, but it is unknown if it was connected with the crime.

According to McAlpine, the second tunneling attempt took place July 29 at Crystal Gems at 10901 Los Alamitos Blvd.

The suspects dug through the drywall of a nearby vacant business and broke into the jewelry store. However, the alarm went off and the suspects left empty-handed.

McAlpine said they may have decided to dig through the wall to avoid tripping an alarm.

The most recent burglary attempt took place Aug. 24, when suspects broke into an empty business just west of Essence Nails and Spa at 4378 Katella Ave.

After breaking through the door, they tunneled into Essence Nails. According to business neighbor Amy Smith, who manages The Salon one door down from Essence, the thieves stole about $100.

They also tried to dig through the wall on the opposite side to get into the Island Grill, also on Katella, but didn’t make it through.

Attempts to contact the manager or owner of Essence were unsuccessful.

It’s not the first time burglars have tried to steal from local businesses in that area, Smith said. Suspects broke into The Salon two months ago, shattering the front door and breaking into the register.

McAlpine said that although digging through a wall may sound odd—people generally associate that method with a bank heist—it’s “not uncommon,” especially if the only thing separating two businesses is drywall and the building’s frame.

No word on what tools were used in any of the incidents, but McAlpine said almost any strong tool would work on drywall: shovels, hammers and even a human fist.

According to McAlpine, police have no suspects in the cases and the investigation is ongoing.

McAlpine recommends businesses install motion sensitive alarms and good video surveillance systems to protect against this type of crime.

Anyone with information about these incidents is urged to call the Los Alamitos detective bureau at 562-431-2255, ext. 405.

Trial To Begin for Man Accused of Smashing Into Teen in Road Rage Incident


A jury trial is scheduled to start today for a man accused of repeatedly ramming a teen driver during a road rage-fueled chase through Los Alamitos.

Bellflower resident Robert Allen Barnhart, 53, faces 11 felony counts including nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon and has plead not guilty to the charges and will appear again in court for a preliminary hearing next week.

The incident occurred in November when Barnhart was rear-ended in his pick-up truck by an 18-year-old driver in an Isuzu Rodeo on Bloomfield Avenue, according to the Los Alamitos Police Department.

Both men got out of their cars, and Barnhart became livid, according to Los Alamitos Police.

Barnhart allegedly chased the other driver and his passenger to a nearby gas station and rear-ended him as the driver pulled into the station. The chase continued as both drivers headed down Bloomfield and then east on Ball Road into Cypress.

According to investigators, Barnhart continued ram the other driver, sideswiping him and causing he Isuzu to spin into oncoming traffic.
“He turned the victim’s vehicle around so that he was facing west into eastbound traffic lanes,” Captain Bruce McAlpine said at the time of the arrest. “Apparently Barnhart was still not satisfied, and he gave chase again.”

In an effort to evade Barnhart, the teenage driver continued heading west into oncoming traffic. In a fourth and final collision, Barnhart turned his truck into the Isuzu, crashing into it and bringing both vehicles to a stop, said McAlpine.

“Mr. Barnhart got out of his vehicle and pulled the victim out of his vehicle and hit him,” said McAlpine.

Throughout the chase, several witnesses called 911, and police from Los Alamitos and Cypress arrived on the scene to arrest Barnhart.

Barnhart was taken into custody and released on $50,000 bail. Today’s scheduled preliminary hearing will determine if there is enough evidence in the case to move forward with the trial.


3 Burglars Arrested for Prowling



6/19/12 – 8:08 AM – 10800 Chestnut – A report of an unauthorized person taking a vehicle sometime overnight. The vehicle was later located in a nearby city.


6/22/12 – 10:43 PM – 5000 Katella Ave. – A report of an unauthorized person forcing entry to a vehicle causing damage to the paint and a loss of property sometime during the prior hour.
6/23/12 – 6:05 AM – 3900 Toland – A report of a vehicle burglary by unknown means and a loss of property that occurred approximately four days prior.


6/18/12 – 11:06 AM – 3700 Katella – A report of inappropriate touching committed by a known person earlier in the morning resulting in an assault investigation.


6/18/12 – 11:50 AM – 10800 Kyle – A report of an unauthorized person taking metal scrap from a business sometime overnight.
6/18/12 – 5:42 PM – 3700 Toland – A report of a BMX bicycle stolen from the back of an unlocked vehicle sometime overnight. A second nearby unlocked vehicle was rummaged through but nothing was taken.
6/21/12 – 12:56 PM – 11200 Los Alamitos Blvd. – A report of an employee taking inventory without paying.
6/22/12 – 11:58 AM – 10600 Bloomfield – A report of a work truck battery being taken sometime over the prior two days.


6/17/12 – 10:12 PM – 11100 Winners Circle – A report of a suspicious person scavenging recyclables in the area. A 42 year-old woman from Riverside, was arrested on suspicion of taking recyclables and being under the influence of a controlled substance.


6/18/12 – 10:37 AM – 10600 Oak – A report of an unauthorized person accessing the victim’s bank account.


6/17/12 – 7:41 AM – 4400 Howard – Vehicle check. A 36 year-man from Los Alamitos, was arrested on suspicion of fraudulent display of vehicle registration tags.
6/18/12 – 3:59 PM – Katella Ave. and Los Alamitos Blvd. – A report of a three vehicle traffic collision and one of the parties fleeing the area.
6/19/12 – 12:33 AM – 11000 Bloomfield – A report of a child custody violation.
6/19/12 – 7:44 AM – 4000 Farquhar – Pedestrian check. A 22 years-old woman from Los Alamitos, was arrested for warrants, and a 25 year-old man from Lakewood was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance.
6/19/12 – 1:40 PM – 3700 Catalina – A report of a person using an out of state resident’s personal information to gain employment. A 24 year-old man from Hawaiian Gardens, was arrested on suspicion of identity theft.
6/20/12 – 3:48 AM – 3500 Green – A report of suspicious persons in the alley. A 40 year-old man from Placentia was arrested on suspicion of prowling, possession of burglary tools, possession of stolen property, and a parole hold; a 44 year-man from Placentia was arrested on suspicion of prowling and a parole hold; and a 33 year-old woman from Santa Ana was arrested on suspicion of prowling.
6/23/12 – 1:49 PM – 4400 Katella Ave. – A report of three people posing as customers who passed counterfeit currency.

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