MANTECA (CBS13) – A man arrested in Manteca is accused of committing four armed robberies in a span of 74 minutes on Thursday and stealing a Prius, authorities said.
The fast-moving crime spree stretched from Manteca to Lathrop with several law enforcement agencies teaming up to catch the suspect. In less than two hours Thursday afternoon, seven businesses reported being robbed by a man in a black hoodie.
Steven Smith, 34, of Manteca, was located in Tracy on Thursday and taken into custody without incident. He was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail on four counts of robbery and one count of auto theft.
Smith allegedly went from one business to the next threatening clerks and then taking off with cash.
“After us, he robbed the Lathrop store, so it’s scary. And he had a gun,” said Pavi Castaneda, who works at one of the Subway stores that were robbed.
Investigators say one of the victims wrestled the weapon away from Smith and it turned out to be an airsoft gun. That’s still enough to scare longtime customers in the area.
“Pretty brazen, pretty crazy to do that. People are stubborn I guess, without a job, economy is bad,” said Robert Munoz.
“I’m scared about this whole thing going on, everybody’s like losing their minds. I think everybody’s just getting desperate you know?” said Dar Scott.
Manteca Police Sergeant Gregg Beall mapped out the crime spree for CBS13. It started just before 1 p.m Thursday. Several businesses were robbed in Manteca, then French Camp and Lathrop.
By 2:30 p.m., seven stores had been hit. Sgt. Beall says he’s never seen anything like it. Midway through the spree, Sgt. Beall says Smith even stole his roommate’s Prius to finish the job.
“I’m not sure what he was thinking if he was thinking. He was kind of on a roll and terrified various business owners and employees,” said Sgt. Beall.
“Yeah, I’m scared. I work at nighttime every day and my coworkers, we’re scared,” said Castaneda.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said additional charges may be added as the investigation continues. Smith is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, Nov. 23.
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