H-SANTA MARIA

Feb 11, 2011 9:40 PM by Ariel Wesler

Three people robbed in Santa Maria within hours

Officers respond to street robberies just hours apart last night. The first one took place just after 5:45 p.m. in the 600 block of South Lincoln. The second was just around the corner near the intersection of Morrison and Thornburg shortly after 7 p.m.

The third was in the 300 block of North Mary just after 9 p.m. In all three cases, the robbers were after cash and knew where to find it.

Three street crimes in less than four hours. At 5:45, police say a man robbed a woman on South Lincoln with a semi-automatic handgun. Then, about 7:10 just around the corner, two men strong arm another man, stealing his wallet. Just after 9, on the other side of town, a man robs a woman at knife point, stealing her purse.

"To have this many within this short period of time isn't necessarily common," said Sgt. Terry Flaa with the Santa Maria Police Department.

Officers say the robbers know when to strike.

"These types of crimes happen later in the week when people are more apt to have cash in their possession," Sgt. Flaa said.

Police would not release the identity of the victims, but say street crimes are a common trend. An advocacy group for migrant workers in the Santa Maria Valley says a lot of workers either get paid in cash or cash their checks almost immediately, making them a prime target. Many don't understand the banking system.

"They're used to dealing with just money. They earn the money, and they have it and as they need to use it for rent or food, then they dispense it," said Mary Solorio Jacka with California Rural Legal Assistance.

Police advise only carrying an amount of cash you can afford to lose.

"They'll adapt, but it takes education and I think the banking industry has to take their part," Solorio Jacka said.

The victims in all three crimes were not injured.

Officers say there is safety in numbers. They recommend walking with at least one other person and reporting any suspicious activity as soon as possible.

Police are still searching for the criminals.

The first robber is described as black man in his early 20s, 6'0 tall with a thin build, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

In the second crime, the robbers are described as two Hispanic men approximately 18 years old, 5'9" tall with thin builds, wearing black hooded sweatshirts.

The third description is similar to the first. A black man approx 25-years-old, 6'0 tall, thin build, wearing a black baseball cap and sweatshirt.

Anyone with more information on these crimes or who committed them should contact the Santa Maria police department.

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