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Three Who Had ‘Bad Luck’ With Cars Arrested in 400-mile Crime Spree

October 23, 1985

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Three men were arrested in a 400-mile spree of four abductions, three auto thefts and an armed robbery in which two of the cars broke down and another suffered a flat tire, police said Tuesday.

Two men who were abducted had stopped to help the gunmen with their car problems.

Three of the captives were released unharmed, but the fourth victim has not been found, said Detective Ed Zarate. He may have been an illegal alien who is safe but did not report the incident out of fear of being reported.

″We know there was a fourth victim, because he was seen being held at gunpoint,″ Zarate said. ″He was a Mexican male. Hopefully, he has not been killed and dumped somewhere.″

Robert Lee Irvin, 25, of Rancho Cucamonga, was arrested Monday in San Jose on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping, posession of stolen property and auto theft, according to Zarate.

Arcadio Acuna, 34, and Marco Ramirez, 29, both of Ontario, were arrested early Tuesday in Ontario, 40 miles east of Los Angeles.

″We believe these three suspects came from Ontario to Redwood City, possibly for a drug deal because there was a large amount of money found,″ Zarate said. ″They had an automatic weapon and a stolen high-power rifle. We don’t know if they hurt anybody, but they frightened a lot of people.″

The abductions and car thefts began shortly after noon Monday on Highway 101 in San Jose, Zarate said.

A motorist, Ken Hale of San Jose, stopped to help a disabled car.

One of the three men in the car asked Hale to drive him to a place where he could get a spare part. During the ride, the man drew a pistol and ordered Hale to return to the first vehicle. They picked up another gunman, and fled with Hale still captive. He was dropped off later along the highway.

Irvin, who owned the disabled vehicle, was arrested near his car after Hale called police.In the car’s trunk, officers said they found a loaded military carbine stolen earlier this month in Orange County.

Meanwhile, two other gunmen stopped at a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation in South San Jose after Hale’s car developed transmission trouble, police said.

The two pulled a gun on PG&E Supervisor Samuel Webb and landscaping contractor Ernest Westmoreland, kidnapped them and stole a car there. But they soon abandoned that vehicle when a tire blew as they drove over a curb.

They switched back to Hale’s car, taking Webb and Westmoreland with them, but the transmission gave out completely near Morgan Hill.

″They had a lot of bad luck with cars,″ said Zarate.

Webb and Westmoreland, who were also robbed during the incident, were freed after another unknown good Samaritan helped push the car into a parking lot. They later told police the fourth victim was taken hostage at gunpoint by the assailants and they drove off in his car.

Police believe the gunmen then drove to a Gilroy bus depot, took a cab to the Salinas bus depot, and made it home to Ontario, where Acuna and Ramirez were arrested a short while later. The fourth victim’s car has not been located.

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