Officers have arrested a mother, her daughter and a 13-year-old girl suspected of snatching a purse from an elderly woman Monday morning walking to a bus stop on McHenry Avenue in north Modesto, a police spokesman announced Friday.
No injuries were reported in the strong-arm robbery that occurred about 11:20 a.m. near the Target store at 3405 McHenry, just south of Standiford Avenue.
Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz said a 74-year-old woman was walking to the bus stop when the 13-year-old girl approached her from behind.
He said the girl “violently” pulled the woman’s purse, which was hanging from her shoulder. The girl then ran to a waiting white Mazda car occupied by the two other suspects.
The car sped away but crashed into a nearby decorative rock, losing its front license plate. The car then left the area, running over and killing a cat in its path.
Police checked the registration of the recovered license plate and identified the owner’s home in the 700 block of Foster Drive, just south of the Tuolumne River and east of Highway 99.
Armendariz said officers waited at the home and arrested Virginia Magana, 39, of Modesto, after she arrived at the home in the suspect vehicle. Robbery investigators followed-up on this case and identified the two other suspects.
On Thursday, investigators arrested Erica Jimenez, 18, of Ceres, and the 13-year-old Modesto girl. Jimenez is Magana’s daughter.
Police did not release the Modesto girl’s name, because she is a minor. She is not related to Magana or Jimenez, Armendariz said.
Investigators learned the suspects were looking for a victim before they found the elderly woman.
“It was disturbing to learn a mother and daughter would work together to commit a violent crime on an elderly woman,” said police Lt. Bill Ryan.
Magana was arrested on suspicion of robbery, conspiracy and hit-and-run. Investigators believe she was driving the getaway car.
Jimenez and the Modesto girl were arrested on suspicion of robbery, criminal conspiracy and elder abuse.
Armendariz said Magana and Jimenez could be additionally charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He said Magana could also be charged with elder abuse for her suspected involvement in the robbery.
In the first nine months of this year, robberies climbed 21.9 percent compared with the same months last year. Most of the crimes have involved robbers approaching victims in public settings, also known to police as street robberies.
The Modesto Police Department has responded to the trend by reassigning five investigators to handle robberies only. The investigators work closely with patrol officers, records clerks and crime analysts to identify suspects.
“Reducing the number of street robberies and arresting the perpetrators who commit these cowardly acts is our primary goal,” said Ryan, assistant commander of the department’s Investigative Services Division.
Police ask anyone with information about this robbery to call Detective Phil Owen at 572-9589 or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus your message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at 578-2394.