By Edwin Folven, 5/17/2012
Police are hoping surveillance camera footage will lead to the arrest of a serial carjacking and robbery suspect who during one incident physically assaulted a 76-year-old woman before stealing her car and purse.
The suspect is believed to have committed 12 hold-ups in Los Angeles, including three in Hollywood, between April 14 and April 26. He is also believed to have struck seven additional times in the cities of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale and Pasadena.
“It has been happening from North Hollywood to Hollywood, and over to the Pacific Division,” said Capt. William Hayes, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “He is looking at people who are vulnerable in public, and then approaches and robs them. We are asking anyone in the public who might know this individual to come forward before he hurts someone else.”
Investigators have dubbed the suspect the “Opportunistic Bandit” because he targets victims who are alone in parking lots, or outside gas stations and banks. The crimes began on April 14 around 11:30 p.m. with a street robbery in the 14000 block of Ventura Boulevard, followed the next day by a carjacking around 10:50 p.m. at a gas station in the 1700 block of Highland Avenue in Hollywood.
An additional carjacking occurred around 1:30 p.m. on April 20 in the 7800 block of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, followed by a vehicle burglary around 10:50 p.m. in the 2400 block of Lincoln Boulevard in West Los Angeles. The third incident in Hollywood occurred around 4:45 a.m. in the 3200 block of Cahuenga Boulevard. Additional crimes have occurred on Century, Sepulveda, Westwood, Ventura, Laurel Canyon and Lankershim boulevards.
Hayes said the suspect strikes at night or during the early morning hours, and is described as an African American man approximately 25 to 30 years old with a shaved head. He has been described by victims as being five-feet-nine to six-feet-four inches tall and 180 to 250 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.
Hayes added that the suspect has simulated having a weapon, but no weapon has been seen. He generally engages the victims in conversation before striking them with his fists and snatching purses or other personal property. During the incident at the gas station on Highland Avenue, he approached the 76-year-old victim inside the mini-mart and they spoke briefly. When the woman got into her car, the suspect entered through the passenger door, struck her several times and then forced her out of the vehicle and drove away, Det. Steve Koman said.
Police are also searching for the victim’s vehicle, described as a grey 2006 Toyota Highlander with the license plate number 5TRV609. The vehicle stolen during the carjacking on Sunset Boulevard is also still being sought, and it is described as a silver 2000 Mercedes Benz S500 with the license plated number 65UF553. Hayes said the suspect is likely using the vehicles to drive around the city and commit additional burglaries and robberies.
“When you go after someone who is seventy-six years old, it shows that he is very dangerous,” Hayes added. “We definitely want to get him.”
Anyone with information about the suspect is urged to contact Det. Steve Koman or Det. Tom Thornton, with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, at (213)486-6840.
During weekends and off-hours, call the LAPD’s 24-hour hotline at (877)LAPD247.
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