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August 22, 2014
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Grass Valley baby formula thieves arrested in Placer County

Three people were arrested, and one got away, in a series of brazen thefts at grocery stores in Reno, Grass Valley and Auburn Wednesday.

Grass Valley Police officers were dispatched to Save Mart, in the 2000 block of Nevada City Highway, at about 6:30 p.m., after an employee reported four people were involved in a burglary, said Lt. Steve Johnson.

“Two women and one man entered the store with large duffel bags and proceeded to fill the bags with a large quantity of baby formula,” Johnson said. “They then left hurriedly, without paying, got into a vehicle driven by another man and left.”

The thieves were gone when officers arrived, but they were able to get a vehicle description and a partial license plate, Johnson said.

The quartet next were spotted at a Bel Air store in North Auburn, said Placer County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin.

At 6:50 p.m., two women and two men entered the store, located on Highway 49, and were observed filling duffel bags with baby formula, Erwin said.

“As a store employee attempted to intercept them, one male suspect fled out the front doors with a bag of stolen merchandise,” she said.

“The other suspects dumped merchandise in various aisles before they fled outside to a blue sedan. Two employees chased the first male suspect, but stopped when he crossed Highway 49. The duffel bag full of formula was recovered when the man dropped it.”

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies swarmed the area and citizens pointed them to the blue sedan, a rental car, which was parked behind a building on Kemper Road, directly across the highway from the store, Erwin said.

“A deputy saw the two female suspects run from the car and quickly detained them,” she said.

“The male suspects ran in a different direction. Despite setting a perimeter and assistance from CHP air support and a K-9 search, neither male was found at that point.”

About two hours later, suspect Damon Yon Marcus Nash, 24, of Hayward, was located walking along Highway 49, near Live Oak Lane. He was taken into custody without incident.

The suspects’ vehicle held 160 stolen items, the majority of which were large containers of baby formula.

Detectives also found quantities of Prilosec medication, Sensodyne toothpaste and large bottles of tequila.

“It appears the suspects were stealing formula and other expensive items, totaling $6,000, from Reno to the Bay Area,” Erwin said, confirming they had been linked to the Grass Valley robbery and also to a robbery in Reno.

Charday Mariah Monique Brown, 18, of Hayward, Torryiel Gayla Griggs, 20, of Oakland, and Nash were booked at the Placer County Jail on charges of commercial burglary and conspiracy. Griggs also had a burglary warrant from Alameda County. Detectives are looking for the fourth suspect, Erwin said.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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The Union Updated Aug 28, 2014 12:05PM Published Aug 28, 2014 12:28PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.