An armed robbery captured on video at a Santa Ana store is being circulated by police in hopes the public can help identify the individuals responsible.
One of six people involved was already in custody before the surveillance video’s release Wednesday, but the Santa Ana Police Department is hoping to track down the remaining perpetrators who targeted a business on the 200 block of East 17th Street last Wednesday, Nov. 20.
The video starts with two women walking outside of the business before jumping to a camera recording from inside the shop, where one of the women is now seen, and a store employee is being thrown around by a man who appears to be holding a weapon.
Investigators believe the robbers are gang members trying to exert a form of control over the neighborhood, said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
“They were demanding the rent payment,” Bertagna said. “This business owner doesn’t pay rent to those people, so they are extorting him or taxing him for doing business in a particular area — which happens a lot with the gangs.”
The video shows that, after the employee lies down on the floor, both the man and woman turn out his pockets. Later on in the recording, three men can be seen huddled around the employee, two of whom look to be holding weapons. As two of the three men walk away, the employee decides to make a run for the door but is thwarted by one of the men before he can reach it.
Two of the three men then escort him back towards the inside of the business.
Outside surveillance video shows the alleged escape vehicle — which police say is a black, 2003 Ford Explorer — as one of the two ladies seen earlier gets into its front passenger side.
A fourth man is seen in the driver’s seat, with another woman sitting in the back seat. Three men exit from the business’ back door and get inside shortly after.
The thieves made off with some cash, merchandise and the employee’s wallet, and the vehicle fled south on Spurgeon Street, a news release from the Santa Ana Police Department said.
Bertagna called the incident “unacceptable,” and said he suspects there may be similar crimes that haven’t been reported to police over fear of retaliation.
“People in the community should be able to run a business without fear of having to not only pay their legitimate rent, but pay a tax to do business in a specific area,” he said. “It’s something we won’t tolerate.”
After reviewing the surveillance video, detectives were able to identify one of the four men as Orlando Arballo, 28. Officials describe him as a documented gang member who is living on the streets.
They found Arballo a day after the incident on the 1400 block of East First Street and were also able to recover a Ford Explorer similar to the one seen in the video.
Detectives also recovered two revolvers inside the business that they believe were used during the robbery.
The remaining five people are still on the run, according to the department.
Police have released descriptions for only two of the men. They say the SUV’s driver was a white or light-skinned Latino man, in his late 20s or early 30s and weighing around 200 to 220 pounds. Another man who was armed with a gun is between 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs roughly 160 pounds, officials said.
If anyone has information about this incident, contact the Santa Ana police at 714-245-8362 or DGreaver@santa-ana.org.