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Police catch robbery suspect

One of five people sought in a string of home invasion robberies in Ballico, Cressey, Delhi and Hilmar areas was caught early Monday morning at a house in Hilmar.

Sgt. Scott Dover of the Merced County Sheriff's Department said Miguel Angel Penaloza, 24, of Delhi was caught about 1:30 a.m. at a residence in Hilmar.

Penaloza was booked into Merced County Jail on charges of burglary, robbery and home invasion robbery and remains there in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Dover said deputies received an anonymous tip that Penaloza was staying at the house in Hilmar.

Four deputies went to the home and Deputy Brandon Thomas caught him after a short foot pursuit. No weapons were found on Penaloza, who was believed to be armed and dangerous.

"We are chiseling away at the case and eventually will get them all," Dover said.

Also being sought in the home invasion robberies dating back to April 2006 are Robert Penaloza Jr., 32, of Delhi; Juan Carlos Alvarez, 26, of Turlock, Hector Manuel Sanchez, 25, of Turlock, and Abelino Magana, 19, of Delhi.

Three others also are in the Sonoma County Jail in connection with the string of home invasion robberies in northern Merced County, the Turlock and Sonoma areas.

Somewhere around a dozen home invasion robberies are believed to have taken place. In some instances, drug dealers' homes were targeted and these robberies weren't reported to authorities.

The home invasion robbers are described as organized individuals who pick their victims ahead of time. The robberies have taken place between

4 a.m. and 8 a.m. The robbers forced their way into the homes.

The robbers usually wear dark clothing with hooded sweatshirts and their faces are covered by bandanas.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or