SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) – Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officials have arrested three women who allegedly worked together to rob other women working alone at locations across Santa Clara County by distracting them, public safety officials said Tuesday.

Melissa Larsen, 20, Madeline Amelia Lopez, 19 and Julia Marie Peruzzi, 18, were all arrested on 11 counts each of suspicion of burglary and 9 counts each of identity theft, according to Capt. Shawn Ahearn.

Public safety officials said the crimes were committed in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Santa Clara. Larsen was arrested on Thursday and Lopez and Peruzzi on Friday, according to court records.

Melissa Larsen (left), Madeline Amelia Lopez and Julia Marie Peruzzi are accused of a string of robberies targeting women in Santa Clara County. (Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety)

Melissa Larsen (left), Madeline Amelia Lopez and Julia Marie Peruzzi are accused of a string of robberies targeting women in Santa Clara County. (Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety)

The three women would target other women working alone, particularly real estate agents at open houses and women working by themselves at convenience stores. One of the suspects would create a diversion to distract the employee. At that point, one of the other women would steal cash and/or credit cards from the victim’s purse as she was being distracted.

Once the suspects had the cash or credit cards, another suspect would drive a getaway car to Safeway or CVS to buy gift cards with stolen credit cards.

A Sunnyvale officer identified the suspects during an investigation into one of the robberies. Further investigation determined there were multiple victims and robberies.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office then issued arrest warrants for the women, public safety officials said.

Anyone who lives in Sunnyvale and believes they’re victims of a similar robbery should contact Detective Clyde Cheng (408) 730-7712. People who live in other jurisdictions and believe they are victims should contact their local law enforcement agency.

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments (2)