Story Summary

Stockton Gold Chain Robberies

Gold chains have been the target of choice for thieves in Stockton, with one count noting 127 gold chain robberies since March 2012 until September.

Few suspects have been arrested.

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This story has 9 updates

STOCKTON-

A 7-month-old girl was hurt when her stroller was tipped over as a gold chain was ripped from her mother’s neck in Stockton.

The little girl suffered scratches and bruises, as did her mother who struggled with the suspect.  Both were examined by a doctor today and the injuries were not deemed serious.

The mother said she was walking down the street and saw a thin African-American teenager sitting on a grassy area.  She said the suspect was about 5 feet 7 inches tall who was wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans and red tennis shoes.

stockton-babyThe robbery happened in the Weston Ranch suburb of Stockton which has seen an epidemic of such incidents.  The police department put out an advisory the same day as the robbery warning residents to keep gold jewelry under clothing or take them off in public.

Police say since over the past month they’ve had nearly a robbery a day of gold chains worn by the victims.  Last year there were over 200 such robberies.  During the winter the robberies subsided when people began to wear more scarves and coats. The arrests of several suspects who were responsible for multiple robberies also reduced the number incidents.

But gold chain robberies resumed with the onset of warmer weather when jewelry is once again exposed.  Police say it shows how violent gold chain robberies can be if the robber had no regard for the safety of a 7 month old child.

Last fall a Stockton man was shot and his gold chain stolen as he was walking around a neighborhood park.

Local News
04/12/13

Mother and Baby Pushed Down for Gold Chain

Two Local Cities in ‘Worst Run’ List

File photo

STOCKTON-

A mother walking her 7-month-old child was pushed to the ground by a thief who was after her jewelry.

Thursday evening, the woman was walking in a neighborhood south of Stockton, off Henry Long Boulevard with her child in a stroller.

A man was sitting down nearby, and as she passed, the man knocked her and the stroller over.

The man, who investigators say was most likely a teen, grabbed the woman’s gold chain necklace and took off running.

Investigators do not have a good description of the suspect at this time. It sounds like the woman and her child are ok.

STOCKTON-

Mary Balz remembers the last time she saw her fiance, Armando Pina.

“He called me and said he was going to  go get a burrito, and go take his walk around the park,” Balz told FOX40.

Pina, 60, was shot and killed for his gold chain, right on the sidewalk next to Victory Park last September.

“I hope you guys are caught, I hope you guys are suffering,” Balz said.

For months, she has been wondering, who did this?

“He’s gone, these people are loose, they are just going to continue to do what they’re doing.” Balz said.

The Stockton Police Department has received tips from six individuals through their crime stoppers programs.

“They’re saying the people involved in [Pina's] homicide are responsible for other homicides around the same time,” said Officer Joe Silva.

FOX40 has learned that there are four unsolved homicides in Stockton just around the time Pina was killed. And every tipster that has called in says the same thing– the killers who took Pina’s life likely took others.

Police have no suspects yet. If you have any information, contact the Stockton Police Department.

Local News
02/15/13

New Information in Gold Chain Robbery Death

Armando Pina

Armando Pina was killed in September 2012 in Victory Park.

STOCKTON-

New information is sparking new interest in the death of a 60-year-old man in a Stockton park.

In September, Armando Pina was robbed of his gold chain, then shot by two men in Victory Park.

The suspects ran off, and at the time there was very little description to go on for investigators.

Friday, Stockton Police say they got tips linking the suspects in Pina’s shooting death, to several other homicides that happened last fall.

Investigators are now asking anyone who may have information about Pina’s death or the suspects to call them.

Callers are asked to call the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377, the Investigations Unit at (209) 937-8323, or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600. Callers can remain anonymous. People may also text information from their cell phones to ‘CRIMES’ (274637) and type the keyword TIPSPD and then their tip or logon to the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page and click ‘Submit A Tip’.

If you have any information that may lead to an arrest contact Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards up to $10,000.

Part of a growing memorial at Victory Park for Armando Pina, a 60-year-old man killed over his gold chains. (Chris Neslon)

STOCKTON–

Armando Pina was a retiree from Stockton’s sewer department, where he worked for 27 years. He was a father of three, a graduate of Edison High School, played drums since high school and liked to travel.

The 60-year-old had also beaten cancer – and hated his DMV photo because it was from a time in his life when he was still battling it.

But, in a brazen broad daylight robbery Monday at Victory Park, Pina’s life was taken over two gold chains.

“This was a very malicious attack on a victim who was just walking around the park, minding his own business, when the two suspects approached him and ripped off his gold chain from around his neck,” said Stockton Police Ofc. Joe Silva Monday.

Pina’s family believes the thieves saw his gold medic alert bracelet first. But, Pina also had a gold chain around his neck that he kept hidden. Both were stolen from him.

Police were called to the park just before 4 p.m. and found Pina suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital, but eventually succumbed to his injuries.

“I had no idea that man got shot and died over a funky rope; a chain,” said Kevin Johnson, a witness to the shooting. “It’s sad. You can’t even dress up or be yourself.”

The suspects are only vaguely described as two Hispanic or black men in their late teens.

Pina wasn’t the only one targeted because of his gold chain that day. Between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., six other gold chain robberies were reported to Stockton Police. A total of 175 gold chain robberies have been reported to police this year.

A vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the park where Pina was murdered.

Cecilio Padilla contributed to this report.

Stockton has seen a rise in gold chain robberies. One such robbery Monday afternoon turned deadly. Kimberly Rankin reports.

STOCKTON-

Armando Pina A 60-year-old man was killed Monday when Stockton Police say two teenage men wearing hoodies tried to rob him of his gold chain.

Armando Pina was shot in Victory Park in Stockton just before 4 p.m. in broad daylight. Normally, police do not release the name and picture of victims, but Stockton Police are really worried about this crime and are desperate for answers.

“This was a very malicious attack on a victim who was just walking around the park, minding his own business, when the two suspects approached him and ripped off his gold chain from around his neck,” said Stockton Police Ofc. Joe Silva.

Since March, Stockton Police have responded to 175 reports of gold chains being stolen, police have been worried because the violence has been escalating, but this is their worst nightmare.

“These suspects have gotten very brazen to the point where now they are killing over a gold chain,” said Silva.

The family came to the scene of the crime today, they said Pina would have defended himself and they believe he did not hand over his chain willingly. Police would not elaborate on the crime, but did say that Pina was armed with a gun during the robbery.

Police are now warning anyone in Stockton, if you decide to wear a visible gold chain you are putting a target on your back. They recommend wearing the chains under your clothes are not at all.

STOCKTON–

Two more gold chain robberies were reported in Stockton Monday afternoon, one where an 11-year-old girl had her gold necklace ripped from her.

The girl was walking near N El Dorado and Jamestown Streets when two suspects approached her from behind. They soon snatched her necklace away and ran from the area on foot.

Another robbery happened about a half hour later near E 6th and C Streets, with a 27-year-old woman reporting that a suspect approached her and held a gun to her head. The suspect then ripped a 10K gold necklace from her and took off in a waiting car.

With these two, a total of eight gold chain robberies have been reported in Stockton since Friday.

STOCKTON–

In another gold chain robbery over the weekend, a 52-year-old woman had her necklace ripped from her – only this time, one suspect was caught.

The robbery happened near E March Lane and E Bianchi Road Saturday, when a suspect approached the woman at a gas station. As she was buying propane, the suspect ripped her gold chain from her neck and ran to a waiting truck.

Apparently the truck was a rental, and as the getaway driver was trying to return the truck a short while later, he was taken into custody by police.

Daryl Pembrook, 41, faces robbery and conspiracy charges. The other suspect is still on the loose.

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