CORONA: Arrest of 72-year-old, alleged bank robbery suspect leads to animal cruelty investigation

CORONA — The arrest of an elderly, bank robbery suspect led to an animal cruelty investigation and what one animal control officer described as, “by far, the worst call I have ever been to.” During the service of a search warrant related to the robbery, animal control officers recovered nearly three dozen dogs, including seven puppies.

Officials arrested 72-year-old, Corona resident Robert Flores on suspicion of bank robbery Wednesday, July 26.

After the service of the search warrant, Riverside police officers arrested Robert Bustamante Flores, a 72-year-old Corona resident. He was arrested at the Corona Police Department Wednesday, July 26.

“Flores is suspected of giving a teller a demand note and receiving cash during the robbery of Pacific Western Bank,” Riverside Police Department spokesman Sr. Detective Andy Bryant explained in a written press release. The bank is located at 1050 W. Sixth Street in Corona.

He was detained when he came to the Corona Police station on an unrelated matter, according to Bryant.

Riverside PD Robbery/Homicide detectives questioned Flores about the bank robbery and then wrote a search warrant for his home, located in the 100 block of N. Vicentia Avenue in Corona.

While being interviewed, Flores told investigators there were dozens of dogs that lived inside the main area of the residence and that he lived inside the garage at the property.

While detectives served the search warrant, they were assisted by a team of four City of Corona animal control officers, who spent “about 75 minutes” locating and removing a total of thirty-five dogs, including seven small puppies, said Bryant.

“Over all the years of my career, this is by far the worst call I have ever been to,” said Animal Control Officer Bill Sellers. “I have never witnessed this level of blatant neglect.”

Furniture inside the home where the dogs lived was “destroyed down to the frames,” according to Bryant, who described the deplorable conditions the filthy, excrement-covered dogs lived in.

Several animal control vehicles were needed to complete the recovery. City of Corona photo

“Animal waste covered the floor in the home and in some areas, it had decomposed to the consistency of mulch,” said Bryant.

Many of the dogs removed from the home were emaciated and showed symptoms of disease.

One adult dog reportedly had to be humanely euthanized due to several open wounds and its “extreme medical condition,” according to Bryant, who explained all the dogs and puppies were taken to the Corona Animal Shelter where they were fed, hydrated and evaluated in a quarantine status.”

During the service of the warrant, detectives located items they believe were associated with the bank robbery, according to Bryant.

Flores was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of Robbery. Additional charges related to the animal cruelty investigation are pending, according to Bryant. His bail is currently $30,000; however, his bail could be raised once animal cruelty charges are added.

Anyone interested in learning how they can help with the care of the dogs and puppies that are at the shelter, to view photographs of all the recovered dogs that are now or will be available for adoption and for adoption information, visit City of Corona’s webpage.

Anyone with information about the robbery or animal cruelty investigation is encouraged to contact Detective Mario Hernandez at (951) 279-3659 or by email.

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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.