Three arrested in Clovis escort service robberies
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three people, including a 17-year-old girl, are in jail for using an escort service as a front to lure and rob people inside a Clovis apartment, according to investigators.
Clovis Police are investigating seven cases where the victim was lured to an apartment thinking they were meeting an escort, instead they were robbed at gunpoint.
Two 19-year-old suspects are in the Fresno County Jail and their 17-year-old accomplice is also under arrest, at the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Center. Clovis police say the trio tricked their victims with online escort ads. Now detectives are looking to meet with any more victims.
The armed robberies began with provocative online ads on two adult oriented websites, both with Fresno and Clovis sections. Clovis police said the internet lure ended in an apartment complex on Alamos and Villa, where several victims were robbed at gunpoint.
"We were very fortunate in this situation that no one was hurt," said Clovis Police Department spokesperson, Janet Stoll-Lee.
So far detectives have seven cases where the person responding to an escort ad reported being robbed.
"They've got to be in kind of an embarrassing position," Stoll-Lee said. "But, as far as safety is concerned and looking out for other people who could end up in this situation, it actually turned out to be a very good thing that they came forward. They also got their cell phones back and some got their money back."
After serving a search warrant at a unit in the Briarwood apartment complex Friday, police arrested a 17-year-old girl who, they said, talked to the victims on the phone convincing them to show up there.
19 year olds Javontae Johnson and Bobby Peele are also in jail, facing armed robbery charges. Investigators do not anticipate charging them with sex crimes.
"Apparently the robbery was the big motive behind the whole thing. Was to get the money, get the cell phones and other property," Stoll-Lee said.
The victims, who turned to the internet, likely looking for a sexual encounter, were not charged with a crime. Police said their escapade to find an escort should now be a buyer beware for anyone looking to do any business online.
"Safety is so important and a lot of times with these websites, you never really know for sure," Stoll-Lee added.
The two 19-year-old suspects are being held here on a $605,000 bail.
Clovis police are urging anyone who was robbed by them to come forward. They said there is still unclaimed property they need to return.
Clovis Police detectives are asking anyone who may have used escort services offered through myredbook.com and backpage.com at 275 W. Alamos in Clovis from late October through December 27th to contact them. Right now, investigators have seven confirmed cases of "clients" being robbed, many of them as the perpetrators brandished a handgun and demanded money and property.
Last Friday (12/28), Clovis Police served a search warrant at the W. Alamos address and arrested 19-year-old Bobby Peele who lived there, 19-year-old Javontae Johnson of Fresno and a 17-year-old girl of Fresno. Detectives say the juvenile talked with the potential "customers" on the phone and lured them to the residence, where they were robbed of money and cell phones. Officers recovered some money, cell phones and the handgun when they served the warrant.
Clovis Police shut down the operation after making the arrests. Both men are currently being held in the Fresno County Jail for robbery in lieu of $605,000 bail. The young woman is being held in Juvenile Hall. If you or someone you know has been a victim, you are urged to call Clovis Police at 324-2800.
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