Five suspects have been apprehended, but four other suspects are still at large following armed home invasion robberies in Petaluma Monday morning, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
A group of roughly nine suspects around 3 a.m. went to three different homes along the 100 and 200 blocks of Eugenia Drive in Petaluma, busted in doors and confronted homeowners while searching for marijuana, the sheriff's office stated.
At least one homeowner was tied up during the home invasions and reportedly pistol-whipped, according to the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office indicated that the suspects are from North Carolina and were looking for marijuana, but none of the homes targeted actually cultivate marijuana.
"People come from states where marijuana is illegal or treated very seriously," Sgt. Spencer Crum said. "They can get two to three times the amount for marijuana that they can here in California. The price has gone down so they consider us a soft target."
Following the home invasion robberies, two vehicles believed to be associated with the crimes were later spotted by Petaluma police, according to the sheriff's office. A police pursuit followed before coming to an end in Novato.
One vehicle came to a stop on southbound Highway 101 just before the San Marin exit, sheriff's officials said. Five men jumped out of the vehicle and fled the scene. One of those suspects was captured.
A number of firearms were found in and around the vehicle, according to the sheriff's department.
A second vehicle believed to be connected to the early morning home invasions was spotted in the Novato Costco parking lot, sheriff's officials said. Three suspects were taken into custody at that time.
Another suspect was captured during a subsequent search in Novato, according to police.
Police said the suspects still at large may have left the area.
Residents in the area of Novato's Wood Hollow Drive were asked to shelter in place due to the ongoing police activity, but that order was lifted at 12:45 p.m., according to the city's police department.
Further information was not available.