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Police seek carjacker who targets lone women

Authorities fear crimes may become more violent if arrest isn't made soon.

May 15, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • The alleged robber was caught in this video footage at a gas station on Highland Avenue in L.A.
The alleged robber was caught in this video footage at… (Los Angeles Police…)

Authorities are looking for help with identifying an alleged carjacker who is responsible for more than a dozen thefts and robberies in Glendale, Burbank and the Los Angeles region.

The man, who police have dubbed the “Opportunistic bandit,” allegedly started targeting lone women April 14, physically assaulting them before taking their purses and sometimes their vehicles, Los Angeles Police Department detectives said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Intimidation is a big part of this,” said Glendale Police Sgt. Jeff Newton, who is working on the robbery investigation.

Police released photographs and surveillance video footage —recorded at 8:45 p.m. on April 15 — that showed the alleged carjacker holding a cell phone to his ear as he followed a woman into a gas station convenience store in the 1700 block of Highland Avenue in Los Angeles.

Police say when he tried talking to the woman, she left and got in her car. At that point, he also entered the woman’s car via the passenger door, hit her several times and forced her out, stealing her car and purse, police said.

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That same morning in Glendale, police said he grabbed a woman who was near her car on Colorado Road and Pacific Avenue, pretended to have a gun and stole her purse and other belongings. He fled on foot.

About an hour later, he approached three men on the 3900 block of Riverside Drive in Burbank, again pretended to have a gun, and robbed them of their money, Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said. The men told police he fled in a silver Mercedes SUV.

The man returned to Glendale, where police said he stole a purse from another woman’s car as she was loading items into the trunk on Glendale Avenue, also fleeing in the Mercedes.

Police detectives later recovered the SUV, which they said was stolen from a woman who was pumping gas in Santa Monica.

“He got a full tank of gas and a car,” Glendale Police Det. Art Frank said.

In Burbank, the same man was suspected of entering Prizzi’s restaurant on Riverside Drive on April 20 after the restaurant was closed and stealing crash from the register, Ryburn said. A restaurant employee who attempted to chase him down suffered minor injuries after she was knocked to the ground by a white Mercedes SUV he was driving.

Five days later, Ryburn said the man again pretended to have a handgun and robbed the Best Western hotel on Riverside Drive.

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