Police have arrested three people in connection with 14 robberies and thefts at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in 10 Northern California cities beginning in January, Antioch police Lt. Leonard Orman said today. Pittsburg residents Jesse Patrick, 31, his sister Trista Peterson, 24, and Concord resident Lester Burks, 27, are being held in Contra Costa County jail on charges stemming from one of the robberies. Police plan to take the rest of the cases to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office as soon as they get all their evidence together, Orman said.In most of the robberies, Patrick and Burks allegedly entered the store, filled up a shopping cart and headed for the garden exit. When employees or customers tried to stop them, Patrick sprayed them with pepper spray, Orman said.Peterson served as a getaway driver in many of the robberies, but not all of them, Orman said.Nobody was seriously injured in any of the robberies.In all, Orman said, the group stole an estimated $8,338 of merchandise, mainly high-end tools. After stealing the tools, the group allegedly brought them to a Bay Point man known as “The Tool Guy,” who sold them at flea markets in Stockton and San Jose, Orman said.Police have talked to “The Tool Guy” and searched his residence, where they allegedly found evidence of the operation, but because of a medical condition, they are waiting to arrest him until formal charges are filed, Orman said.Antioch police arrested Peterson in late April during a traffic stop and found she had an outstanding warrant.Patrick, who is considered the primary aggressor in the robberies, was arrested by Concord police for allegedly assaulting someone with pepper spray. Burks was arrested earlier this month when police served a search warrant at his residence, Orman said.During interviews with police, Patrick allegedly told investigators that he had also carried out several other thefts that he didn’t get caught for, Orman said.The robberies happened at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in Antioch, Pittsburg, Livermore, Union City, Lodi, San Jose, Concord, Vacaville, Vallejo and Roseville. Because they were committed in so many different jurisdictions, it took police a while to figure out that the same group was responsible for all the robberies, Orman said.Antioch police have since been working with all police departments involved in the case and plan to file all the cases together in Contra Costa County Superior Court.All three suspects have prior criminal records, Orman said.
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