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Police Provide Access to La Penca Azul Robbery Records

Late yesterday, the Alameda Police Department provided Action Alameda News access to records, including 9-1-1 call recordings, to explain the course of events on the evening of December 1st, 2011, when La Penca Azul restaurant on Park Street was robbed.

Chief of Police Mike Noonan played 9-1-1 call recordings with the report of the robbery and surveillance video taken from the restaurant security cameras, which had no audio.

The 9-1-1 recordings reveal a frantic restaurant employee calling the police saying, “we just got robbed,” then hanging up. When police dispatchers called back, an employee answered, but after talking for a moment, put the dispatcher on hold. Chief Noonan said its common for crime victims to behave this way immediately after the event.

Action Alameda News pressed on specific questions about the robbery as provided by sources:

Takeover Robbery: Sources told Action Alameda News that patrons were robbed as well. Alameda police say they have no reports of patrons being robbed. The video does show the robber pointing a handgun at the bartender and at one patron sitting at a “high-top” table, but it doesn’t appear that any patrons were robbed. One patron at the bar was using his smartphone and apparently unaware that a robbery was underway for most of the duration. Alameda Police characterize a takeover robbery as one where a robber takes control of the establishment, preventing anyone from leaving, and systematically robbing the patrons as well.

Patrol Car Nearby: Time-stamped video shown to Action Alameda News indicate that the time-in/time-out lapse for the robber was 30 to 35 seconds. Alameda Police call history logs indicate that police were on the scene within 40 seconds of the 9-1-1 call reporting the robbery. The patrol car reported to Action Alameda News to be nearby may have been there for other reasons, and not yet aware of the robbery, or on scene in response to the robbery, but officers were waiting for more information – did he have a gun? what kind of gun? is he still inside? – before entering the restaurant. The police communications center dispatches police while still gathering information from the reporting victim.

Inside Job: Chief Noonan said that the method of the robbery, and the size of the loss from the register, does not suggest an inside job. “I would expect a much greater loss,” for an inside job, he told Action Alameda News. The robber wore a mask during the robbery.

Cover-up: The Chief again denied any conspiracy on the part of his department or direction from City Hall to minimize publication of news of the event.

Chief Noonan said that it is still an open investigation and that his department is still interviewing witnesses, that they have six witnesses, and they have identified a person of interest. He also asked that that anyone with more information about this crime contact Alameda police.

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