The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Bureau is investigating several new leads into two recent home-invasion robberies — one in La Cañada on Thursday night and the other in La Crescenta the night before — along with a burglary that also occurred Thursday down the street from the La Cañada crime.
"We do have some leads in the case, and obviously, we're following up with the burglary that occurred at the same time," Lt. Dave Oliva, who works in Major Crimes, said Wednesday. "We believe it's probably related but still don't know for sure."
Meanwhile, police are strongly advising residents of the Foothills to keep their windows and doors locked as the two armed suspects, both described as black men in their 20s, are still at large.
On Thursday night, June 5, an elderly La Cañada couple were held captive at gunpoint during a home invasion in the 5100 block of Jarvis Avenue by two suspects who robbed them of valuables before fleeing the scene. The suspects entered the home, where the couple has resided for 37 years, through an open door with an unlocked screen.
"When they first came in, it was dark," the female victim, who asked not to be identified, said Wednesday. "They came rushing in saying, 'Police! Police!' They both had guns and they were flashing flashlights in our faces."
The suspects herded the upper Alta Canyada area homeowners into a bedroom, demanding money and property. They repeatedly demanded to know where the diamonds were, the victim recalled.
"I explained to them I was a teacher, and my husband had worked in an office, and we didn't have any diamonds," she said.
After about half an hour, the robbers fled, taking cash, jewelry and other valuables with them, the woman reported. She believes they may have made off with the diamond engagement and wedding rings she had worn for 64 years. She said, at one point, they also threatened to take her husband, who has dementia.
Details of the Jarvis home-invasion case, including a description of the two suspects, were similar to those of another armed home invasion that occurred Wednesday night in La Crescenta, in the 2900 block of Los Olivos Lane, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Lt. Elisabeth Sachs, day-shift watch commander at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, said Friday.
In that incident, a man awoke to find two men in the process of tying him up, Sachs said. The men were in possession of a handgun. Once he was bound, the suspects took turns holding him at gunpoint as they robbed him of cash, jewelry and other items.
"One would hold him at gunpoint, while the other would ransack the house," Sachs explained.
Once they left the house, the still-bound but uninjured man ran to a nearby residence for help. When the homeowners saw him, they notified police, thinking he was trespassing.
One of the suspects is listed as being 6 feet 3 and weighing about 200 pounds, while the other was described as a man of medium build. Both were wearing dark clothing, and they were wearing hooded sweat shirts, according to the sheriff's department.
While officers were on scene at the Jarvis Avenue home Thursday night, they were approached by a man who said his residence — located in the 1700 block of neighboring Earlmont Avenue — had been burglarized sometime between 7 and 10 that same night, Sgt. Booker Hollis of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station said Friday.
"He saw us there, not at his house, but at the robbery, and he notified us his home had been ransacked," Hollis said. "A high amount of cash was taken and quite a bit of jewelry as well," Hollis said.
The estimated value of the jewelry taken from the Earlmont home was around $50,000, he added. The point of entry was determined to be an unlocked window.
Oliva stressed the importance of reporting to police any unusual or suspicious people or vehicles they may see in their neighborhoods.
"Don't be shy. Make the call and you've done your civic duty," Oliva said. "Those little things are what generally break big cases. Once we get one link, suddenly, all the other stuff comes together."
The Jarvis Avenue woman who was robbed said she felt it was important to spread the word to fellow La Cañadans, who may feel a false sense of comfort living in a safe community.
"Even if you've lived in a house for 37 years and nothing's ever happened before, it still could," she warned. "You do need to keep everything closed and keep you door locked, even if it's hot outside."
Although shaken, the woman said she harbors no anger toward her captors.
"I learned a long time ago that when you're angry with somebody, it doesn't hurt them, it hurts you," she said, explaining her positive outlook on the situation. "We had an adventure."
Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.