'Have you seen my dog?' Armed robbers use lost dog hustle in Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, La Jolla

Posted at 7:03 AM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 21:58:57-04

SAN DIEGO - San Diego police sought Wednesday a man who used a lost dog ruse to distract a woman in front of her Sunset Cliffs-area home and a second man who then stole the jewelry she was wearing at gunpoint.

One of the men walked up to the 55-year-old victim as she was about to get out of her car in the 4300 block of Monaco Street near Amiford Drive shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and asked her if she had seen his lost dog, San Diego police Sgt. Michael Tansey said.

A gun-wielding man wearing a ski mask approached her as she was talking to the first suspect and pulled a necklace from her neck and took a ring off her finger, according to the sergeant. The two men then ran off.

Police described one suspect as black, in his 30s and around 5-foot-9 with a medium build. He was wearing dark clothing. The second was a stocky to heavy black man of 5 feet 10 to 6 feet tall wearing a black jacket, a black ski mask and dark clothing.

"I'm so sorry for what happened,” said Lupe Castro, who knows the victim.

Castro works for a family that also lives on Monaco Street, and the robbery happened at a home on a quiet cul-de-sac overlooking the ocean.

"Now you never know, I don't feel safe anymore,” said Castro.

Tansey said police were investigating whether the Sunset Cliffs robbery was related to two others Tuesday night in La Jolla and Ocean Beach.

Within minutes of the first robbery, a second that also included a lost dog ploy occurred in the 1500 block of Ebers Street in nearby Ocean Beach.

Guillermo Alverez, 36, had just parked his car and was about to go into his home when a man asked him if he had seen a lost pit bull.

Alvarez said, "This other guy with a ski mask comes up with a gun." just before a man in a ski mask and dark clothing pointed a gun at him and demanded his property. Alvarez offered up his cellphone and wallet after the suspect, dressed in dark clothing, racked the slide of the gun, and the first suspect took his backpack, Tansey said.

Alvarez immediately told his wife who called 911.

"Just right here is the alley, so he just ran and took off. But it was really dark out here; we went and got lights today,” said Cheryl Alvarez.

"If it's a dark place, I think that's a pretty easy target. It would definitely help if the streets had actual lights because the neighborhood is pretty dark," said Guillermo Alvarez.

Jessie Chicote, who lives very close to the Alvarez family, happened to walk by and found out what happened.

"We never felt worried about our neighborhood at all, so it's awful," said Chilcote.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, a 60-year-old La Jolla man was robbed at gunpoint by three men in ski masks and dark clothing just after he pulled his car into his garage in the 1300 block of Virginia Way, according to Tansey.

The suspects took his watch, phone and briefcase then ran off. Police said the trio used the same lost dog ploy in the crime.

Anyone with information on any of the robberies was urged to contact police at 619-531-2000 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.