RIVERSIDE - Riverside police are investigating an early morning car burglary Sunday in which a couple were battered and pepper sprayed by the offender.
The victims told police that a man dressed in all black left the 400 block of Longcommon Road at about 4:29 a.m. after battering his wife and him and using pepper spray during a confrontation in the driveway, according to police.
Riverside police used the canine officer from North Riverside to track the scent of the offender. The dog tracked a scent to the alley in the 2900 block of Harlem Avenue, but police were unable to locate the offender.
The female homeowner, 59, looked outside of their residence after being alerted from a Ring doorbell device that somebody was in the driveway. When she looked outside, she could see someone rummaging through the car, police said.
She woke up her husband, 56, who grabbed a bat and went outside to confront the subject. When he confronted the offender, who was sitting in the driver's seat of a 2011 Honda Pilot.
When the homeowner asked him what he was doing, the male offender replied, "Trying to make ends meet for my daughter." The suspect pepper sprayed the male resident in the face causing him to drop the bat, according to police.
The offender picked up the bat, but the homeowner grabbed the bat at the same time, and a struggle ensued. The female homeowner struck the offender with a broomstick handle. The offender then pepper sprayed the woman He then fled northbound down the driveway, police said.
The homeowners described the offender as a man in his mid-20s, 6 feet tall, approximately 160 to 170 pounds, wearing a black hoodie, black face mask and black pants.
The victims were treated by paramedics at the scene. It appears that no property was missing from the car. Police recovered physical and video evidence and continue to search the area for additional video footage.
"This early morning attempted car burglary and most likely car theft, was a violent confrontation between the offender and homeowners,” Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said in a statement. “While in this case, the offender did not get what he came for, he injured the homeowners with pepper spray and by battering them.
“I would highly encourage our residents to call 911 immediately and not wait until the offense is over. While the residents in this case were able to prevent their property from being stolen, this confrontation could have been much worse if the offender had been armed or the victims had received more serious injuries. Riverside police officers were at the home within two minutes of the initial 911 call. I ask our residents to please call the police first before any confrontation with a possible offender so that our quick response may facilitate the apprehension of any possible suspects.