Montebello Police Bust Shoplifting Ring

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two people were arrested and two others were cited for allegedly taking part in a shoplifting ring that targeted Southern California Victoria’s Secret and JC Penney stores, making off with more than $500,000 in merchandise, Montebello police said Tuesday.

Gabriel Contreras, 23, of Highland, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and grand theft, and Riverside resident Guadalupe Rocio Morales, 34, was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, according to police.

The arrests were the result of a three-week investigation conducted by Montebello police in conjunction with loss-prevention agents from Victoria’s Secret and JC Penney, according to Montebello police Lt. Andrew Vuncanon.

A search of Morales’ home turned up a significant amount of clothing, handbags, makeup, perfume and lotions believed to be stolen from Victoria’s Secret and JC Penney worth an estimated $489,000, Vuncanon said.

The investigation led authorities to another Riverside home where they recovered an additional $20,000 worth of stolen property from Victoria’s Secret and JC Penney.

Two women were detained at the home and cited to appear in court for allegedly possessing the stolen clothing and property.

“Investigators and loss prevention agents determined through their investigation that the stolen merchandise recovered was going to be sold at local swap meets and out of the residence of one of the suspects,” Vuncanon said.

Manufacturers, Mechanics Blamed For Montebello Tanker Explosion

July 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A 2011 tanker explosion that destroyed a freeway bridge in Montebello occurred because Peterbilt Motors Co. manufactured a defective part deep within the chassis of the big rig, an attorney for a transportation company told a jury today, but a defense blamed the accident on the truck’s mechanics.

In his opening statement in trial of Cool Transports’ lawsuit against the Texas-based truck maker, lawyer Michael Partos said the universal joint on the forward section of the interaxle drive shaft of the truck failed, causing bearing caps to puncture the tanker.

The 8,800 gallons of fuel that had just been picked up a few miles away became ignited by sparks, Partos said.

“This case is about a manufacturer who didn’t want to stand behind his product,” Partos told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury.

But lawyer Richard Moreno, on behalf of Peterbilt, placed the blame for the accident squarely on Cool Transports’ truck maintenance crew. He said California Highway Patrol inspectors examined the forward universal joint and found no evidence it was recently greased.

“There’s no evidence of fresh lubrication on that drive shaft,” Moreno said. “That’s the million-dollar question, was it greased or was it not?” Partos said there is no dispute about which part on the truck broke.

“All parties agree the universal joint failed,” Partos said. “The question is why it failed.”

He said Cool Transports’ mechanics regularly maintained the company’s truck fleet.

To bolster their explanations to jurors, both lawyers used computer-generated images, a replica complete interaxle drive shaft and the original section of the interaxle drive shaft that fell off the truck.

CHP officers recovered the part and conducted the investigation into the Dec. 14, 2011, accident that left the Paramount Boulevard overcrossing of the Pomona (60) Freeway too severely damaged to be repaired.

In December 2011, Peterbilt conducted a recall of trucks built between January 2006 and April 2007 because of issues with drive shafts and universal joints, Moreno said. However, the truck involved in the accident was not subject to the recall because the 2006 model big rig was built in 2005, he said.

Moreno said the recalled trucks were having problems when they were much newer that the one involved in the accident, which was six years old at the time and had close to 700,000 miles on it.

The current lawsuit is an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed in February 2013 by the state Department of Transportation against Cool Transports, which has terminals in Cudahy and Colton, and the driver of the petroleum tanker, Bilal Ahmed Ghutta. The state sought $10.5 million, but the case was settled before the current trial, with Cool Transports agreeing to pay the state $5.9 million.

Ghutta was driving in the eastbound right lane of the freeway when the accident occurred, according to the state’s lawsuit. After Ghutta felt the driveshaft detach, he stopped the truck under the Paramount Boulevard bridge, where the tanker exploded, according to the state’s complaint.

The bridge, originally built in 1967, was shut down following the fire, which forced a lengthy closure of the 60 Freeway between the Long Beach  (710) and San Gabriel River (605) freeways while Caltrans crews assessed the integrity of the structure.

The bridge was demolished once it was determined the fire had caused too much damage. Its replacement, which opened ahead of schedule in May 2012, is 128 feet wide, 32 feet broader than the old one, and includes an additional northbound lane, an eight-foot shoulder, a 14-foot center median and six-foot sidewalks.

Montebello PD Search for Suspect of Attempted Assault

March 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Police  circulated an image of a man Friday, suspected of trying to sexually assault a female he met at a bus stop in Montebello.

The victim was waiting for a bus in front of a Chevron station at 1500 Paramount Blvd. about 7:30 a.m. on March 11 when she was approached by an unknown man who talked with her and persuaded her to accompany him to another stop where they could catch the bus sooner, according to Montebello police.


(Montebello Police Department)

The man then led the victim into a secluded landscaped area between the Pomona (60) Freeway and The Shops at Montebello at 2134 Town Center Drive, police said.

“Once there the suspect attempted to sexually assault the victim,” according to a police statement. “The victim successfully fended off the attack and fled the area.”   The suspect was described as Latino, 30-40 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 130 pounds with black hair and a goatee.

He was wearing a gray hoodie with blue writing, black shorts and was carrying a dark-colored backpack.

Anyone with information about the suspect was urged to contact Montebello police Detective R. Zabala by calling (323) 887-1200 or sending an email to

Anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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