By Edwin Folven, 5/03/2012
Council Approves Reward For Information Leading to an Arrest
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information on two suspects dubbed the “Painter’s Mask” bandits, who have been striking businesses throughout the city, including Hollywood.
According to Det. Maria Tomes, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, the suspects have generally targeted auto parts stores or pharmacies around closing time, and are considered very dangerous. No one has been injured, but the pair commit “take-over” robberies where they brandish handguns and threaten employees. The LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division has been assigned to the case because of the large area where the robberies have occurred.
“It is very widespread,” Tomes said. “They started in the Harbor area, and the last couple in the city have been in Hollywood and North Hollywood. We are hoping someone knows who these guys are, or someone with a grudge will turn them in.”
Police released surveillance footage of the suspects on April 26 after few leads were developed. The robberies within the city of Los Angeles occurred between Dec. 17 and Feb. 17, and Tomes said investigators are working with detectives from the Gardena and Hawthorne Police Departments, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s East Los Angeles Station, because additional robberies attributed to the pair have occurred in those areas.
The robbery in Hollywood occurred on Feb. 17 around 8:50 p.m. in the 800 block of Western Avenue, just north of Melrose Avenue. The previous day, the pair allegedly robbed a store in the 7000 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Additional hold-ups occurred on Jan. 13 in the 11500 block of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles; on Dec. 17 the 300 block of Anaheim Boulevard in South Los Angeles; and on Dec. 17 in the 24800 block of S. Western Avenue, also in South L.A.
Tomes said the suspects appear to be getting comfortable in their mode of operation, and have used different disguises, sometimes posing as construction trade workers or customers of the businesses they are targeting. In some cases they have worn painter’s masks, but in others they have covered their faces with ski masks or bandanas. In one case, one of the robbers carried a lunch bag as part of his disguise.
One of the suspects is African American, 30 to 40 years old, approximately six-feet to six-feet-two-inches tall and 170 to 180 pounds. He has a light complexion and a thin mustache. The second suspect is either African American or Hispanic, 25 to 30 years old, six-feet to six-feet-two-inches tall and 170 to 180 pounds. He has a mustache and sideburns, and in one robbery may have been wearing a fake beard with a chin-strap. Tomes added that the suspects are obviously using some type of vehicle to get around the city, but no description is available.
“It’s affecting commerce at these businesses, and the employees have been pretty shaken up,” Tomes said. “We want to keep the employees safe as well as the citizens, so we want to catch these guys as soon a possible.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Tomes with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division at (213)486-6840. During weekends and off-hours, call the (877)LAPD247.