Burglary Crew From Los Angeles Botches Upland Pharmacy Job, Ending In One Fiery Death

One of three burglars attempting to defeat the safe at the Doctor’s Choice Pharmacy in Upland in the early morning hours Wednesday died from severe burn injuries sustained when the car he fled in with three accomplices burst into flames upon colliding with a Metrolink Train while they were attempting to make their getaway from the botched break in.
Just before 4:40 a.m., the owner of the pharmacy, located at 639 North 13th Avenue between San Antonio Road and Arrow Highway and within walking distance of San Antonio Regional Hospital was awakened at his home, which is located more than a mile from the site, by an alarm indicating one of the doors to the pharmacy had been breached. Simultaneously, the alarm registered at the Upland Police Department headquarters, located at 1499 West 13th Street. The pharmacy owner’s real time scrutiny of video from security camera in the pharmacy showed three individuals were within the premises. One camera showed that upon locating the pharmacy’s staff, one of the burglars shot at it in an effort to open it.
According to the Upland Police Department, “On 12/6/23 at 4:39 am, we received a call of a burglary at a pharmacy in the 600 block of N. 13th Ave. As we were enroute, the business owner also called and said he was watching the burglary in progress via cameras and said there were three suspects, one of whom was shooting a firearm at the safe.
As officers arrived on scene, the suspects ran to a stolen Dodge Charger Hellcat that immediately fled and led officers on a pursuit. During the pursuit, the suspect vehicle entered the southbound lanes of northbound Euclid Ave and was approaching the train tracks when the railroad warnings activated. The suspect vehicle failed to stop and collided into a moving Metrolink train, causing major damage to the Charger that immediately caught fire.”
According to the police department, “The driver of the Charger tried to flee, but was quickly captured. Two injured suspects exited the vehicle and were immediately detained and carried away from the burning car. A fourth suspect was located in the front passenger’s seat and had to be dragged from the wreckage; he sustained serious burns to his entire body, was taken to a trauma center, but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. This same vehicle/crew may be associated to a pharmacy burglary in Claremont that occurred just before the Upland burglary.”
Further information is that the four or others fitting their description were also involved in burglary of a pharmacy in Glendora.
The police department by press time had not released the name of driver or two surviving burglars nor the deceased man. The driver was booked on suspicion of murder. All three remain in custody, according to the police.
Law enforcement sources tell the Sentinel that the participants, all of whom are African American, are part of a network of burglars from South Central Los Angeles, Irwindale, Compton, Watts, Westmont and Gramercy Park who target businesses located far afield of Los Angeles, variously in Orange County, eastern Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Riverside County. They most often strike by driving to an area between their home/base and immediate intended destination, steal a vehicle with which to drive to the location where the crime is perpetrated, then return the car to near its original location to regain the car owned by one of the participants. An individual skilled in hot-wiring and defeating security mechanisms usually performs the role of driver and remains with the car while the passengers effectuate the theft.
Dodge Charger Hellcats are an extremely popular vehicle for thieves. Within the United States as a whole, they are stolen more than 60 times more frequently on average than typical passenger cars, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.
-Mark Gutglueck

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