CRIME REPORT: Suspects in La Jolla armed robberies arrested Sunday after Smashburger holdup

Three men and a teen boy suspected of robbing more than 12 restaurants and businesses in La Jolla and Clairemont during the past three months were arrested Sunday night, Aug. 4, according to


San Diego

and police reports.

The suspects were arrested after the Smashburger at 1000 Prospect St. in La Jolla was robbed at gunpoint by two masked males about 10:20 p.m. Sunday, police said. The suspects, dubbed “The Backdoor Bandits” by police, fled the scene in a car.

About 15 minutes later, a 2013 Kia Rio with four people in it was pulled over for a traffic stop on Luna Avenue near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, police said

Investigators found dark clothing, an Airsoft semi-automatic replica handgun and a backpack filled with cash in the vehicle, along with the cashbox from Smashburger. Additional items from the robbery were found inside the Luna Avenue home where one of the four suspects resides.

The suspects are believed to have also robbed the Rigoberto’s Taco Shop on La Jolla Boulevard in WindanSea at around 2:30 a.m. earlier that day, as well as the El Cotixan restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Both Rigoberto’s locations on La Jolla Boulevard, including another at the intersection of Marine Street in the Village, were robbed at gunpoint in June.

Arrested were: Thomas Nelson, 23, Duran Caldwell, 23, Ryan Churchill, 22, and an unnamed 17-year-old boy. Nelson and Churchill have been released. Caldwell is being held on $50,000 bail. The teen was taken to Juvenile Hall.

--Staff Reports

Other crimes reports

July 30

Residential burglary

, 6200 block Camino de la Costa, 8 a.m. A white male suspect 30-35 years old with shoulder-length blond hair pried open the rear window of a home, activating the alarm. When private security arrived, the suspect fled on foot, making off with a laptop computer. The suspect was carrying a beach towel and was described by witnesses as a “surfer type.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Sgt. Meryl Bernstein at (858) 552-1729.

Threaten crime with intent to terrorize

, 7700 block Fay Avenue, 11 a.m.

Residential burglary

, 6200 block Camino de la Costa, 12:09 p.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 8300 block Camino del Oro, 1:15 p.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 1000 block Prospect Street, 2 p.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 8700 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 2 p.m.

July 31

Battery on a person

, 3100 block Torrey Pines Road, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 1

Commercial burglary

, 7700 block Regents Road, 6:51 a.m. Suspect of unknown race/gender wearing light-colored hoodie threw a rock through the glass door of Subarashi restaurant, entered and took a cash register and contents before leaving. Police report several recent cases in the same area of University City of overnight window-smash burglaries. Anyone with information should call Police Sgt. Chris Buxton at (858) 552-1758.

Petty theft/shoplift

, 8800 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 3:45 p.m.

Aug. 2

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 7600 block La Jolla Boulevard, 8:35 a.m.

Aug. 3

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 9600 block Black Gold Road, 5:45 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft

, 800 block Nautilus Street, 10 p.m.