One man was arrested and authorities are searching for two others involved in at least three violent home invasion robberies across San Bernardino and Riverside counties, authorities said at a news conference Friday.
The men are suspected of charging into homes, tying up and assaulting victims and then leaving with their belongings in the three different robberies.
In Rancho Cucamonga, on Oct. 3, a family with young children was sitting outside in their open garage when three armed men with covered faces quickly approached.
The trio pepper sprayed the family, including the children, and tied them up with plastic zip ties, Detective Sanchez of the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department said. The men then repeatedly assaulted one family member, and forced him back into the house where they made him unlock a safe.
“We experienced the most horrifying night of our lives," the homeowner, Mike Hafez, said. "Despite complying with their demands, I was pistol-whipped multiple times in the head.”
The father recalled being tied up with his family as the men pointed guns at them and yelled, “maybe we should kill them all.”
The men then left the home with the family's belongings.
“They were able to escape with valuables, but the most important thing they stole from us is our sense of security and the comfort of our own home," Hafez said.
The father said the violent robbery left his family traumatized, enduring many sleepless nights. He said his 10-year-old can't go anywhere in the house alone, and his daughter hasn’t slept in her room since the home invasion.
“It makes you feel violated and angry," Hafez said. "As a father, my main important job is to protect my family. And at that time, I felt like I failed to protect them.”
Two days before the robbery in Rancho Cucamonga, at about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 1, armed men forced their way into the Yucca Valley home of a 79-year-old Vietnam veteran, forcefully pulled his wedding ring off his finger, ransacked his home and left with his belongings, Detective Benjamin Henry of the Sheriff Department's Morongo Basin station said.
In another incident, at about 8:52 a.m. Sep. 20, two men suddenly approached a woman in her front yard in San Jacinto.
They pushed her to the ground, pointed guns at her and dragged her back into the house, where they bound her while they ransacked her home for almost an hour, Riverside County Sheriff's Department Investigator Ruben Martinez said.
Detectives from both counties identified 28-year-old Jeffrey Taylor-Thompson of Highland as a suspect in all three robberies.
Taylor-Thompson had been arrested in Nevada on Oct. 21, in connection with an unrelated weapons charge, authorities said.
When San Bernardino and Riverside county detectives found evidence that identified him as a suspect, they went to Nevada where they searched his car and found evidence tying him to the robberies.
The two other men involved in the robberies have not been identified and remain outstanding, Rancho Cucamonga Police Detective Donald Patton said.
"They should be considered armed and dangerous," Patton said.
Authorities said there have been other similar home invasion robberies in both counties, and detectives are investigating whether they could be tied to the three that Taylor-Thompson is suspected of being part of.
Those who believe they have any information on the suspects were asked to call San Bernardino and Riverside county detectives. Those who wish to leave an anonymous tip can call the We Tip hotline at 1-800-782-7463.