Man Charged with Robberies in Irvine

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 4, 2021

SANTA ANA—A 49-year-old man was charged today with two robberies in Irvine, including an armed heist at a supermarket, and an aborted holdup at an Adidas store.

Benjamin Robert Laubbacher is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail pending arraignment March 19 on two counts of robbery and one count each of attempted robbery and possession of an assault weapon, all felonies. He also faces sentencing enhancement allegations for the personal use of a gun, and personal use of a deadly weapon.

An Adidas store employee at Irvine Spectrum Center called police about 7 p.m. Monday to report an attempted robbery, said Irvine police Sgt. Karie Davies. The suspect handed a note to a clerk demanding money from the register, she said.

When the employee said he or she had no cash, the would-be robber said he had a Taser and again demanded cash, Davies said. When the clerk again said there was no money available, the suspect ran off.

A few hours later, Laubbacher allegedly robbed an Albertson’s store on Jeffrey Road, Davies said. The suspect demanded cash from a clerk, who refused, prompting the defendant to lift his shirt to show the clerk a handgun in his waistband, the sergeant said.

She alleged that Laubbacher threatened to shoot the cashier, who popped open the register, allowing the robber to grab cash and run.

An officer who responded to the stickup spotted a vehicle matching the getaway car in the Irvine Spectrum attempted heist and stopped Laubbacher, Davies said. Police recovered a loaded gun in the Ford Expedition and other evidence linked to the crime, Davies said.

Laubbacher was also charged with another robbery in Irvine on Feb. 16, court records show, but details of that crime were not immediately available.