BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Over the past few months, 23ABC has been bringing you the details on a string of robberies that have been happening across Bakersfield. Home burglaries are not unusual, but in reviewing the police reports and other documents in the investigations, Bakersfield Police believe seven of the robberies are connected, and may have been specifically targeting senior citizens.
There are several factors that all of these robberies have in common. The BPD report shows seven robberies starting back in August 2022, and then every couple weeks there is another. The suspects described from robberies in September, October, November, January, and February are very similar, with the only outlier being from a robbery on January 26.
The owner of the home burglarized on February 23 in central Bakersfield actually fired back at the thieves breaking into their house, and with that action allowed investigators to start connecting the dots.
23ABC reached out to that homeowner but did not hear back as of news time.
Based on police reports, the homeowner arrived and saw an unfamiliar vehicle, a silver Hyundai Elantra, parked in his driveway. While the homeowner was still in his driveway, according to BPD, one of the robbery suspects, Melvin Carter, began firing a gun at the homeowner.
The homeowner then got his gun and fired back.
Police reports show the two suspects then got in the silver Hyundai and left, driving over the homeowner's yard and hitting their fence.
Court documents say Carter was hit in the thigh and grazed across the forearm in the exchange of fire. He was taken to Kern Medical and later detained there.
While Carter was being held at Kern Medical, BPD was able to take his phone and use the data on it to track the second suspect, Frederick Minnoy III, back to the burglary location on Pine Street.
The next day, February 24, 37-year-old Minnoy was detained at his house in east Bakersfield, where reports say police found numerous items related to the robberies.
Minnoy's neighbors did not want to appear on camera, telling 23ABC that they didn't know Minnoy, but they did see the arrest and say it checks out with the increase in crime they have seen.
Meanwhile, Minnoy has appeared in court, where he is being charged with attempted burglary, attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and conspiracy. Minnoy has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
It is important to note that no burglary cases have officially been linked to Minnoy at this time.
BPD's report on the robberies reads, in part: "Most of the offenses occurred on corner lots near main thoroughfares with the suspect descriptions closely matching one another." The report also says the home invasion robberies were targeting elderly victims, and centered around southwest Bakersfield.
From the report on January 12, the victim says she was on her couch when two guns were pointed at her.
From the report on January 26, the victim states she was at home when she heard a noise. When she went to check it out, she had a gun pointed at her by one suspect while another stole her property.
Most of the other cases in this investigation include reports of violence, including a victim who was tased, and another who was hit over the head with what he believed to be a tire iron while his hands were bound with zip ties.
Although most of the incidents only involved two suspects at a time, the last incident in February involved three suspects. This leads police to think that there is still a third suspect out in the community.
23ABC reached out to the Bakersfield Police Department for comment, but they explained they could not comment on an ongoing investigation. The documents also point out that there are still many pieces of evidence police are missing.
Frederick Minnoy is expected back in court March 13. Stay connected to 23ABC on the air and online for the latest details and updates on this story.
IN-DEPTH: HOME SECURITY TIPS
Since burglaries have been prevalent in Kern County, 23ABC is taking an in-depth look at some tips for preventing and deterring robberies at your home.
According to the San Jose Police Department, the first step is to stay alert and contact law enforcement if you see or suspect criminal activity in your neighborhood.
SJPD also advises homeowners to make sure their homes look occupied even when they are empty. This can be done by leaving some lights on, and if you're going to be away for an extended period of time, arranging to have mail, newspapers, and other regular deliveries held until you come back. A pile of newspapers on the porch or an overstuffed mailbox is a sign to thieves that no one is home.
When you are home, SJPD recommends locking all outside doors and windows before going to bed, and making sure any other doors on your property, like shed doors or garage doors, are shut and locked as well.
Avoid publicly sharing information about when you are or will be out of the house, either in person or online. Don't share upcoming vacation plans on social media, and don't leave notes on your door like "gone shopping" or "be right back" that indicate you're not home. Remember, you don't have much control over who sees information you make public, and someone you don't even know exists could be gathering that information.
Another way to avoid tempting thieves is to put high-ticket yard items such as bicycles, lawn mowers, and barbecues inside, or locked in your garage or shed, if you have them. However, be aware that home safety experts don't recommend bringing items with gas tanks, like some lawn mowers and leaf blowers, directly into your home. On top of being an explosion risk, concentrated gasoline fumes are dangerous to breathe for both people and pets.
According to SJPD, an alarm system is an excellent choice for home security. Not only does it provide peace of mind, especially if you're going to be out of town for a few days, but there are a wide variety of alarms with different kinds of features and alerts. SJPD suggests contacting a few different home security companies and comparing services to find the best system for your home's needs.
But remember, a home security system only works if you arm it. Many homeowners who have systems don't regularly activate them because it can be inconvenient. SJPD says many burglars know this, so just having the sticker or yard sign from a security company might not be enough to deter them. Activating your alarm system gives your property a better chance of staying put and the police a better chance of stopping a burglar.
Finally, if the worst happens and you come home to find a door pried open, a window broken, or other signs that someone has been on your property, stay outside. The last thing you want is to startle a person while they're robbing your house. Call the police first, let them know about anything you see that might help them identify the robber, and don't touch, move, or clean anything until the police have had a chance to do an investigation.