INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Two teenagers are accused of taking part in a series of armed robberies targeting Hispanic victims.
Police say the series of crimes took place Indy’s near west side.
According to court records, the suspects robbed a taco truck on west Washington twice in two weeks. Police believe 19-year-old Latavion Clay and two others targeted the victims because of their race.
Surveillance cameras showed three armed thieves running across a parking lot after robbing a taco truck employee this month. The suspects then jumped into a Chrysler and sped away down the alley.
Two weeks later, prosecutors say the same men returned, put a gun to the employee’s head and stole more money from the same truck.
According to court documents, Clay took part in multiple robberies involving Hispanic victims, including a third crime last year outside another Hispanic business also on west Washington.
“Sometimes people think they can target these members of the community because it doesn’t look like they speak English or they might be afraid of police,” said IMPD officer Randy Diaz.
Officer Diaz works with IMPD’s immigrant outreach unit. He says he often talks to members of the Hispanic community who feel reluctant to report crimes to police, which makes them vulnerable to thieves.
“Some of the immigrants I speak to don’t trust the police because in the countries they came from police are not someone you want to talk to,” said Diaz.
In this case, the victims did call police and officers had Clay’s Chrysler under surveillance. Officers say that allowed them to arrest the 19-year-old as well as a 15-year-old suspect just minutes after the armed robbery last week. A third suspect remains at large.
At the same time, officer Diaz encourages everyone, regardless of race or nationality, to help police help them avoid falling victim to crime.
“The number one thing is to help them understand we’re not here to deport them or get them in trouble. We’re here as members of the community just like they are,” said Diaz. “You can call us. We’re here to protect you. Our number one priority is to keep everyone safe.”
Clay remains behind bars at the Marion County jail. He’s being held on an $80,000 bond.