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'Opportunistic Bandit' robbery suspect targets women

May 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are searching for the "Opportunistic Bandit," a serial robber suspected of at least 19 crimes in 12 days, including at least five carjackings. Police say he's believed to be unarmed, but has kicked and punched victims during robberies in Los Angeles, Glendale, Pasadena, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Surveillance video shows a clear picture the "Opportunistic Bandit" suspect. Police say one of the first crimes he committed was at a gas station on the 1700 block of Highland Avenue on April 15. The suspect is seen following a woman into the store while pretending to be on the phone. Police say when the woman leaves to go back to her car, the suspect strong-armed her and then stole her Dodge Charger.

"This individual is responsible for 19 crimes, 12 of which have occurred in the city of Los Angeles, three of which have occurred in Glendale," said LAPD Captain William Hayes.

Police say most of the victims have been women with the crimes occurring at gas stations and parking lots. They say the suspect, who is believed to be unarmed, has used physical force to steal cash, purses and cars.

"He has actually physically entered vehicles, assaulted victims inside the car, and kicked and pushed them out of their cars," said LAPD Detective Steve Koman.

"If the individual attempts to retain their property, the suspect uses the physical force and beats the individual, either punching or hitting them, in attempts to take the property," said Hayes.

Police say one of the victims is a 76-year-old woman. On April 26 she was badly injured when the suspect confronted her and stole her vehicle from the 5200 block of Lankershim Boulevard.

The gray 2006 Toyota Highlander with Calif. license plate 5TRV609 is still missing, according to police.

Also missing is a silver 2000 Mercedes-Benz S500 with Calif. license plate 6BUF553. It was stolen on April 20 in Hollywood.

The last reported crime was a carjacking on April 26. Police say the suspect sometimes enters the vehicle through the passenger side.

"He's gone in a couple of businesses and when he entered the businesses, he would grab the night deposit or the day deposit," said Koman.

Police say three cars have been recovered but in many cases, the suspect has used the stolen vehicles to commit more crimes. They say the best advice to everyone is to pay attention to your surroundings.

"You're looking at your cellphones, you're not paying attention to your surroundings, you leave your purse in your car with a couple hundred dollars in it, next thing you know, it's gone," said Koman. Police also advised locking car doors immediately upon entering them.

If you have information about the suspect, contact the Los Angeles Police Dept. at (877) LAPD-24-7.

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