Grabbing one cigarette and a lighter and then grabbing the throat of an employee who was trying to stop him netted a 35-year-old transient with a robbery charge early Tuesday, March 17.
Andres Valdez allegedly was panhandling for money in the parking lot of the AM/PM on Whitmore Avenue at Ninth Street and was asked several times to leave. Before 1:51 a.m. he entered the store and went behind the counter to take a package of sealed cigarettes. He opened the package to remove a single cigarette and took a Bic lighter from a display. As he was trying to light the cigarette, employees tried to stop him. Valdez allegedly grabbed the clerk by the neck and pushed him away.
Officer Kevin Sakasegawa found Valdez outside of the business with the stolen cigarette and was arrested on charges of robbery since he used force or fear.