The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office said two men terrorized women -- picked specifically based on their race -- in what they’re calling a purse snatching ring.
Surveillance video captured the pattern: following women in parking lots to their vehicles, waiting until the victim was inside her car, and either smashing a window or opening a door to steal their purse.
Two suspects associated with this alleged robbery ring - 23-year-old Derje Blanks, and 24-year-old Anthony Robinson - were formally charged Friday for dozens of these crimes.
Investigators say the men targeted Asian-American women outside of banks, casinos, and Asian markets.
“Many of these victims were also injured during these robberies, this wasn’t just a pickpocket ‘I’m gonna grab your purse,’” said Christian Camarillo of the San Jose Police Department. “Some of these were violent confrontations.”
Detectives found them through CCTV video and tracked the men’s cell phones and the small network of cars they’d use with stolen license plates.
The Santa Clara county DA’s office is also pursuing hate crime enhancements to their charges, claiming they used ethnic slurs during the crimes.
Robinson also allegedly told police after his arrest last Friday, “Asian people do not use banks, that’s all I’m going to say.” Possibly implying they are more likely to carry cash.
And, that the “age of the people he was taking things from did not matter as long as they were Asian.”
“Our district attorney’s office will not tolerate such violent and targeted destruction,” said DA Erica Cordero. “These men sought out victims simply because of their racial background and they have victimized the AAPI community in a way that deeply victimizes all of us in Santa Clara County.”
Police say the two men were arrested Friday in North San Jose near Top Golf, and crashed into an unmarked police car while trying to escape.
They say Robinson then crashed into another car, severely injuring a 2-year-old girl.
And on Friday, San Jose police confirmed a third suspect was arrested in Union City late Thursday night along with two guns -- one of them a ghost gun.
He’ll be in court next week.
“They did a lot of damage not just in our city and our county, but in other cities and counties as well,” said Camarillo.
The judge in Friday’s arraignment said this case is very troubling, and both men are a danger to public safety.
Blank's bail was set at $500,000 and Robinson will be held without bail.