San Jose man arraigned in purse snatch robbery with all Asian victims

SAN JOSE — A 26-year-old man who was arrested May 11 after being caught on camera allegedly robbing and dragging a woman and her young daughter down a flight of stairs in San Jose was arraigned in Santa Clara County court May 15.

Pablo Cabrera has been charged with five counts of strong-arm robbery and four counts of assault for victims ranging from 4 to 82 years old.

All of the victims in the five cases were women of Asian descent, according to Deputy District Attorney Heather Melton.

Prosecutors are investigating the possibility of a hate crime, but Melton said Cabrera has not made any specific statements indicating that he was targeting Asian women. She said four of his victims were Vietnamese, and one was Filipino.

“Ultimately he was looking for vulnerable victims, and chose these individuals due to their small stature, or the fact that they were caring for children, or were in fact themselves elderly,” Melton said.

Police arrested Cabrera after they responded to the 1500 block of Towers Lane around noon on May 6 and recovered security camera footage from the scene. Their investigation led them to Cabrera, who they said would approach victims from behind, grab “expensive purses,” and run to his vehicle.

Cabrera has a long criminal history and was recently paroled after a two-year sentence for burglary in 2016, Melton said.

Due to the three-strikes law in California, he faces a life sentence for the strong-arm robberies if convicted.

He is being held in jail without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on June 3.

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