SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) -- Three suspects have been charged in a hate crime spree involving dozens of purse snatches and robberies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area targeting Asian women, authorities announced Friday.
San Jose police said 23-year-old Derje Blanks, 24-year-old Anthony Robinson, and 27-year-old Cameron Moody were arrested following a yearlong, multi-jurisdictional investigation.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said evidence has revealed that the defendants targeted the victims because they assumed the women – who were almost all of Asian descent - carried cash. There are numerous incidents where victims were pulled or wrestled to the ground during the robberies. Some victims were injured.
The crime spree includes more than 40 incidents throughout San Jose, San Pablo, Hayward, East Palo Alto, Newark, San Leandro, Fremont, Campbell, Dublin, and Milpitas, with crimes still being investigated by additional agencies.
Police said Blanks and Robinson were arrested on September 8 in San Jose. During the apprehension, Robinson tried to flee in a vehicle, ran a red light, and collided with another vehicle - injuring a two-year-old child and her father, police said. Robinson and Blanks were booked in Santa Clara County Jail for over 70 counts of felony robbery.
On Thursday, detectives located Moody in Union City and placed him under arrest. Two loaded firearms were recovered, one of them a ghost gun, police said. Moody was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on a number of felony robbery charges.
The DA's office said the defendants would be arraigned on Friday and faced numerous charges with hate crime enhancements.
"This dangerous criminal spree was solved thanks to the hard work of the San Jose Police Department," Rosen said in a news release. "We will hold these defendants and anyone who worked with them fully accountable for their ignorant and destructive behavior."
Investigators said that beginning in late 2020, the crime spree included robberies and purse snatches that virtually all followed the same pattern.
According to the DA's office, evidence showed the suspects targeted Asian women because they believed that Asian women don't use banks. In some cases, the suspects used ethnic slurs to refer to their victims.
The defendants would follow the women in parking lots to their vehicles, wait until the victim was inside her car, and either smash a window or quickly open a door to steal a purse off the passenger seat, police said.
"I want to thank all of our department members, as well as the outside agencies, who assisted with this long and complex investigation," said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata in a prepared statement. "Thanks to their hard work there are three less predators targeting members of our community. We are sensitive to the hate aspect targeting Asian females. I commend District Attorney Jeff Rosen for pursuing hate crime enhancements. We have tenacious investigators, and a dedicated apprehension team that was tasked with bringing these suspects to justice."
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