La Habra drug store, burglarized twice, may be target of multi-county crime ring


A La Habra drug store, burglarized twice in two weeks, may be part of a larger crime operation targeting stores in several counties to steal prescription medication, police said.

La Habra police have arrested two men and one woman suspected of burglarizing Central Drugs in the 500 block of W. La Habra Boulevard on Aug. 19, and are searching for another man involved in the incident.

Police also are looking for an unknown number of suspects who hit the store again Aug. 31.

“Although our investigation is still ongoing, it appears the suspects are part of a crew committing similar crimes in other counties,” said La Habra Det. Scott Irwin. “They’re organized  and very selective in what they steal.”

Irwin said, “We believe the burglars may have cased the location, prior to the break-ins, because they were in and out of the business within minutes.”

La Habra police, at about 3:30 a.m., on Friday, Aug. 19, responded to a burglary alarm at Central Drugs.

When the first officer arrived, he observed a suspicious vehicle parked outside. The driver sped off before the officer could make contact.

The suspect’s attempt to evade police ended when he drove down a dead-end road and smashed his silver Hyundai Sonata into a wall in the 700 block of W. First Avenue.

The officer pulled in behind the suspect’s car and started to get out when the suspect threw the Sonata in reverse, and crashed into the patrol car.

The two suspects  in the car — Daniel Estrada, 29, of Apple Valley, and Lina Medina, 24, of Rialto — were detained and subsequently arrested, police said.

While the short vehicle pursuit was underway, additional La Habra officers chased after two other suspects who were in the store when police arrived.

These suspects ran behind the Northgate Market, which is located in the 500 block of W. La Habra Boulevard, and split up.

A perimeter was set up, with the assistance of officers from Buena Park, Placentia, Brea and Fullerton police departments, while an Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter hovered overhead to provide air support.

La Habra police successfully arrested Gabriel Pille, 23, of Fontana, after a foot chase; the other individual was not located.

Pille and Estrada were charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and conspiracy. Estrada also was charged with assault on a peace officer. Medina was charged with conspiracy.

Twelve days later, Central Drugs was again burglarized, but the suspects had fled by the time officers arrived on scene.

The total loss from both incidents is unknown and police continue to investigate both burglaries.

Anyone with information is urged to call the La Habra PD at 562-383-4300.