Authorities say suspects targeted AAPI women in Bay Area purse-snatching spree
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Two men have been charged with more than 40 purse snatchings and robberies in Santa Clara County and throughout the Bay Area. Authorities said the suspects were targeting Asian and Pacific Islander women, looking for large quantities of cash.
The suspects made their first court appearance in Santa Clara County on Friday.
The judge said the entire case was troubling.
Authorities have logged 40 incidents so far, and more are being investigated which could bring the number of attacks to over 100.
Authorities believe Anthony Robinson and Derje Blanks have been striking fear into the Asian community for nearly a year.
Robinson and Blanks are said to have carried out the crimes all over the Bay Area, from San Jose to Hayward to Dublin.
"It was communicated that they believed Asian Americans don't believe in banks and would therefore have more cash on hand when they committed their robberies," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Erica Cordero.
Prosecutors said they looked for victims near ATMs, casinos, and Asian markets, often grabbing purses from car seats, but sometimes knocking over victims to get them.
"And the cash takes on some of these were tremendous. One victim had $30,000 that was stolen from her and nothing seemed to stop these individuals," said Cordero.
Robinson and Blanks were apprehended a week ago in the parking lot of Top Golf in San Jose.
Authorities say they rammed an unmarked police car before attempting to flee the scene.
"Anthony Robinson got in the driver's seat, drove erratically through the parking lot, ran a red light, and hit a passenger vehicle, severely injuring a 2-year-old child," said Cordero.
The two men also face a hate crime enhancement.
"Jeff Rosen in our district attorneys' office will not tolerate such violent and targeted destruction," said Cordero.
Authorities believe Robinson was the ring leader and he's being held without bail. Blanks' bail was set a $500,000 until a hearing next week.
Authorities said Blanks had a scholarship to play football at Western New Mexico University, an opportunity that may now be in jeopardy.