California

Robbers hit stores for months — and forced kids to do their dirty work, Calif. deputies say

Darrell Campbell and Jeammie Preston are accused of forcing children to rob goods from retailers in Southern California.
Darrell Campbell and Jeammie Preston are accused of forcing children to rob goods from retailers in Southern California. Riverside County Sheriff's Office

The duo’s robbery spree went on for months in cities across Southern California, according to authorities.

But they weren’t the ones doing the heavy lifting.

Darrell Campbell, 32, would walk through major retail stores with children and point to merchandise he wanted the kids to steal, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. Then the kids would cart the stolen goods out of the store, where Jeammie Preston, 32, was waiting in their getaway car, deputies said.

Campbell would pull out a knife to threaten stores’ security officers as the children left with the stolen items, deputies said. The children were family members of the pair, Patch reports.

Campbell and Preston were arrested on July 12 in Moreno Valley, the town east of Los Angeles where the couple lives, according to the sheriff’s office. Three children were taken into Child Protective Services custody at the time.

Both Campbell and Preston face conspiracy, robbery, grand theft and child endangerment charges, the sheriff’s office said.

They are being held at a jail in Banning on more than $200,000 bail each, according to jail records obtained by the Press-Enterprise.

Moreno Valley police began investigating the string of robberies in June, according to the sheriff’s office. But the crimes had been going on much longer — and the pair had struck well beyond Moreno Valley, deputies said.

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As far back as October 2017, Campbell and Preston struck retailers in Eastvale, Glendora, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Riverside and San Bernardino, the sheriff’s office said.

Campbell has been convicted of robbery in the past, Patch reports.

Both had an initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday, the Press-Enterprise reports.

Authorities said that anyone with tips in the case can reach out to Moreno Valley police by phone at (951) 486-6700.

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