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Backdoor Bandits Headed to Court for La Jolla Robberies

The three suspects are accused of felony robbery and conspiracy in connection with an armed robbery series that occurred at several businesses including Smashburger in La Jolla.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled Thursday for three men accused of being the "Backdoor Bandits" and carrying out more than a dozen armed robberies at restaurants and other businesses in Clairemont and La Jolla.

Ryan Patrick Churchill, 23, Thomas Abel Nelson, 23, and Duran Montiq Caldwell, 24, each face multiple counts of felony robbery and a conspiracy charge in connection with the armed robbery series that occurred from May to August of last year.

The defendants, along with a teenage boy who was being prosecuted separately, were arrested in August during a traffic stop not far from the scene of an armed robbery at the Smashburger on Prospect Avenue in La Jolla. San Diego police said inside the defendants' car, officers found dark clothing, a black Airsoft semi-automatic replica handgun and a black backpack filled with cash and a cashbox from Smashburger.

The "Backdoor Bandits" moniker stems from the way the thieves in the robbery series almost always entered businesses through their rear doors.

A judge will decide at the end of the preliminary hearing whether there's enough evidence to order the defendants to stand trial.

—City News Service

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