Three Moreno Valley residents were arrested for their connections to six armed robberies that took place Jan. 16 and 17 near campus—five of which occurred within the span of one hour, officials said.
University students were held at gunpoint by then-unidentified assailants last Wednesday, which led UCPD and the Riverside Police Department to launch an investigation into the string of burglaries.
The following day, a sixth robbery occurred near the streets of Fair Isle and Lochmoor.
Matching the listed vehicle and suspect descriptions to the previous crimes, officials arrested Xavier Vining, 20, who was sent to Robert Presley Detention Center on one count of robbery.
Associated with a series of robberies occurring in San Bernardino County, Doneal Lewis Cephus, 18, was arrested in Fontana as a person of interest and sent to county jail.
Markeith Shavers, 19, was the third suspect interviewed by officials and charged with one count of robbery, where he was also placed in the same jail as Vining.
Five additional charges of robbery are expected to be filed against Cephus and Shavers, while detectives are still gathering extra evidence against Vining in the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.
Prior to the investigation, police suspected the series of robberies to be related due to the one-hour time frame and similar descriptions offered by victims.
Between the hours of 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., the first robbery occurred within the close proximity of Linden St. and Rustin Ave.—a street that is prominently known for having high rates of criminal activity.
Other instances of theft occurred near Big Springs Rd. and Mt. Vernon Ave., Blaine St. and Rustin Ave., Lot 30, and lastly near Lochmoor Dr. and Fair Isle Dr., where the fifth and sixth crime occurred.
The assailants, in all cases, were described as black males in their early 20s and 6 feet tall and above. The suspected vehicle is a four-door Honda, dark gray or silver, with a partially-identified plate of 3-U-P-D, C-F or 4F.
“The descriptions of the suspect and the vehicle are remarkably similar,” stated UCR Media Relations Kris Lovekin.
In all five crimes, the suspected criminals used a black semi-automatic handgun as their weapon of choice. In California, a “may-issue” state, individuals are allowed to carry concealed weapon, if a permit is obtained. It is illegal to use semi-automatic firearms, which constitutes as weapons carrying more than ten rounds of ammunition.
Second-year student Jacob Moore, one of the earliest victims, retraced his confrontation with the armed assailants.
After playing basketball at the Rec Center, Moore started walking to his car at 7:50 p.m. on Linden St. While crossing the dirt path in front of Grace Church on the corner of Linden St. and Rustin Ave., Moore noticed a vehicle turn around and park up ahead of him.
A man exited the vehicle and approached Moore, who thought nothing of it until the suspect pulled out a semi-automatic pistol, expressed Moore. The suspect said, “Give me everything you got.” Moore complied, placing his laptop bag, jeans, sneakers, phone, wallet and keys on the ground.
Following this, a second suspect was ordered by the first suspect to “hit [Moore] in the head,” but Moore ducked and with quick thinking was able to snatch his keys as the suspects fled, as well as scream to a passing cyclist, “Get the license plate!”
In the event of an armed robbery, Moore advises others to “look past the gun” in order to get as detailed of a description as possible. “Listen to them, comply, but try to get as much information as you can. Finding something unique is prime in an investigation.” Moore also makes the crucial point of traveling in groups, “the bigger the better.”
In 2012, UCPD reported 31 cases of criminal activity through mass emailing. A total of eight crimes were reported in the month of January. This is the fourth email released by the police in the month of January, which increases the total to eight reported crimes. To assist with ongoing investigations, please call UCPD at (951) 827-522 or email at email@example.com.