MARTINEZ, Calif. (KTVU) - Two men accused of carrying out a terrifying spree of home invasions in the East Bay made their first court appearance on Tuesday.
Adama Diop, 20, and Joseph Wells,22, both of Fairfield, were charged with two dozen felonies in four home invasions in Lafayette, Oakland, and Benicia.
Conta Costa County prosecutor Mary Knox said the victims were terrorized in their own homes.
In the cases, couples were restrained and separated by armed, masked invaders, adding to their fear.
"They were zip-tied and duct-taped, and some of the victims were dragged by their feet, moving the husbands into different rooms from their wives," Knox said.
Authorities say Diop helped plan the invasion, keeping a color-coded notebook with sketches of homes and nearby open spaces and shopping centers where they could blend in.
"He did research on locations, various locations that would give them an easy escape route if the police were to arrive," Knox said.
She said the suspects also monitored police radios and some of the victims reported hearing what they believed was a police scanner.
The spree began on Oct. 29 in Oakland's Upper Rockridge neighborhood where a man was kidnapped and taken to a Berkeley ATM before hew as released.
Then on Halloween night, the men confronted a couple in Lafayette, stealing the couple's BMW and phone. They also warned them not to call the police or else they would come back.
Benicia police 10 days later, investigated a home invasion in which the same suspect stole a couple's jewelry and Mercedes. The husband told KTVU, his wife cut herself while trying to escape.
Diop was arrested the following day after totaling the Mercedes during a police chase. He later posted bail.
"At that point, we were still investigating the home invasion robbery, so were not charging him with that particular arrest," said Benicia Police Department spokeswoman Irma Widjojo.
Police said the men went back to Lafayette just before Thanksgiving and confronted another couple, stealing high-end wine, guns, a Porsche and jewelry that they tried to pawn in Sacramento.
Bail was set for $9 million for each of the suspects. Two additional suspects were arrested in connection with the robberies, Wells' girlfriend and cousin, but they have not been charged.