No. 3: Home invasion team bearing flowers, balloons strikes twice in Garden Grove


Editor’s note: In honor of Behind the Badge OC’s one-year anniversary, we will be sharing the 30 most-read stories. This story originally published Aug. 13, 2014. 

They came bearing flowers and balloons – then, twice this week in Garden Grove, the armed suspects bolted into the residences, tied up occupants that included children and minors, and left with items, police say.

The Garden Grove Police Department on Wednesday alerted residents to be on the lookout for a team of home-invasion robbers they believe are targeting Vietnamese residents.

Police would not divulge the items stolen from the homes in broad daylight Monday and Wednesday, but released photos and descriptions of the suspects that were caught on a surveillance camera on the porch of the home that was hit Monday. Police also released video of the suspects (click here to view).

In that incident, police say, three to four male blacks wearing black clothing and jackets and armed with handguns showed up at a home in the 13500 block of Merello Street at around 3:45 p.m.

Three teens were inside the home at the time.

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When the teens heard a knock at the door, they looked outside and saw two males – one of them holding a bouquet of white flowers. The suspects told the teens they were there to make a flower delivery.

After the teens opened the door, three male blacks brandishing guns entered the home, tied up the teens and put them in a room and spent about 10 minutes ransacking the home.

Police said the suspects left with property but would not disclose details about the items they stole. One of the suspects is seen on video wiping the side of the front door clean in an apparent attempt to erase any signs of fingerprints.

Police described one of the suspects in Monday’s home-invasion robbery as a male black in his 20s to 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet and weighing between 170 and 210 pounds. He was wearing gold-framed aviator sunglasses and high-top black basketball shoes with white soles as well as cotton-style gardening gloves.

The other two suspects were described as male blacks of the same size and stature with short hair and wearing blacks clothing and black jackets.

Wednesday’s incident happened at around 11 a.m. in a gated condominium complex in the 8500 block of Hewitt Place, police said.

Three male suspects, one of them clutching a large bouquet of balloons, entered a unit in the south end of the complex through an open garage door and asked for valuables. They tied up two adults and three children and forced them into a closet.

The victims of Wednesday’s crime were shown pictures of the suspects involved in Monday’s home-invasion robbery and told police they were the same suspects that victimized them.

The Garden Grove PD is asking for the public’s help in providing any information about these crimes or suspects. Call (714) 741-5800.

Garden Grove PD Lt. Jeff Nightengale also advised residents to ask for identification from anyone who shows up with flowers, balloons or other items purportedly for delivery before opening the door to let them in.

“Legitimate delivery people usually will be wearing uniforms or carrying business cards,” Nightengale said.

“Use caution.”