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Suspect targeting OC bank customers caught on tape

June 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Officials released surveillance video of a man wanted in connection to a series of thefts in Orange County. Police say the suspect finds his victims at banks, and then he or his accomplices distract them in order to steal from them.

The video shows the prime suspect, described as 30 to 40 years old and 5 feet 7 inches tall, at a Bank of America in Irvine in April.

"We believe that the suspect seen on the videotape from the banks may be alerting another suspect or possibly following people who make a cash withdrawal from the bank," said Lt. Julia Engen of the Irvine Police Department. "The victims then have had a variety of distractions occur including flat tires."

In March, two women were threatened and robbed at knifepoint while changing their tires on the side of the road in Santa Ana.

They had just taken out thousands of dollars at the bank to pay for their mother's hospice care. As they drove away from the bank, a flat tire forced them to the side of the road. A man then approached and asked if they needed help.

"He was staring at my purse outside the car, and he gave me a smirk in my face," said one of the victims.

Her instincts told her something was awry, and she tried to get away, throwing her purse in the car quickly. But before the two knew it, they were being forced to hand over their handbags at knifepoint, as four more suspects surrounded them.

They weren't physically harmed, but they're still shaken over what happened.

Police believe the suspects had punctured their tires while the car was parked at the bank.

Since the Santa Ana attack, there have been four more in Irvine and one in Buena Park. Police believe they are all connected to the man seen in the surveillance video.

Anyone with information was urged to call Irvine police at (949) 724-7170.