"Pop the Lock Crew" Strikes Again!

The Pop the Lock Crew has struck again!

The three masked men tied to recent bank heists in Dana Point, Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch are believed to be behind Tuesday's 5:40 p.m. robbery of the Wells Fargo at 28211 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel.

Their method of operation was similar to the previous robberies: while one stayed behind as a getaway driver in a stolen car--this time it was a black 1995 Nissan out of Gardena that, like the others, was later recovered--the other two hopped the bank counter, took cash out of drawers and quickly fled.

Illustration by Jay Brockman

At least one gun was seen.

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The FBI, which is working with Orange County's multi-agency bank robbery task force to catch the trio, calls them the "Pop the Lock Crew" not because they can break dance like nobody's business, but because they have used tools to pop open locked cash drawers at teller windows.

A $10,000 reward has been offered for tips leading to the crew's identification and/or capture. Anyone with information is asked to call 866-TIP-OCSD or 866-847-6273.

Here is the latest bank surveillance shot of one crew member in action:

Courtesy of the FBI
A "Pop the Lock Crew" member runs through the Laguna Niguel bank Tuesday.

The "Pop the Lock Crew" is not the only armed robbery team that has captured the attention of local law enforcement lately. A pair armed with a shotgun and handgun has hit seven small shops in Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Fountain Valley since Sept. 13.

In one case, they beat a victim. And during the crime spree, they have at times robbed two businesses on the same day, most recently on Oct. 1 when jobs were pulled at a Santa Ana Domino's Pizza and Garden Grove liquor store.

The bandit with the shotgun is described as a bald Latino in his late 20s, about 5 feet 10, with a stocky build and mustache. His partner with the handgun is Latino, about 5 feet 6, in his late 20s with a thin to medium build.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Santa Ana Police Department at 714.245.8443. Here is a screen grab from surveillance video shot of the pair Sept. 23 at J's Paradise Smoke Shop at 413 W. 17th St., Santa Ana:

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