A female suspect nicknamed the “purse-packing bandit” — due to the large handbags she carries during hold-ups — robbed another bank in the Fairfax District on July 21, marking her 10th robbery in the local area since October 2012.
Authorities had planned to hold a press conference today to announce a $15,000 reward and to ask for the public’s help in identifying the suspect, but the press conference was postponed at the last minute because detectives were involved in an unrelated investigation in another area of the city. Police are in the process of rescheduling the press conference.
The purse-packing bandit generally robs bank branches shortly before closing time, and has brandished a handgun during recent robberies. The suspect appears to have knowledge of the local area, and police are exploring the theory that the suspect may have formerly lived or worked in the community.
“She’s so familiar with the area,” said Det. Tracey Benjamin, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “These are very populated areas, and she’s able to blend in like a chameleon.”
The robbery on July 21 occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. at a Chase Bank branch at 6120 W. 3rd St. Bank surveillance camera footage shows the suspect pointing a semiautomatic handgun while waiting at the counter. Benjamin said no injuries have occurred during the robberies, but the tellers have been traumatized.
The suspect has worn a wig and sunglasses during each of the robberies. She is described as an African American woman between 35 and 40 years old, approximately 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 4 inches tall, and 120 to 140 pounds. The LAPD is working with investigators from the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department because some of the robberies occurred in West Hollywood. Authorities are still determining whether the suspect is responsible for additional robberies in other cities, Benjamin added.
The first robbery attributed to the purse-packing bandit occurred on Oct. 20, 2012, at a Citibank branch in the 8900 block of Santa Monica Blvd. That robbery was followed by a second hold-up on Nov. 14, 2012, at a Chase Bank branch at 300 N. Fairfax Ave., and a third on Dec. 20, 2012, at a Bank of America branch in the 8000 block of Santa Monica Blvd. The suspect allegedly robbed another Chase Bank branch in the 3700 block of Crenshaw Blvd. on Dec. 24, 2012.
Benjamin said the purse-packing bandit went on hiatus in 2013, but resurfaced at the beginning of the year, when she robbed a bank on Jan. 9 in the 1900 block of Hillhurst Ave. The next robbery occurred on Jan. 28 at a Chase Bank branch at the Beverly Connection on La Cienega Boulevard, followed by an additional hold-up on Feb. 21 at a Citibank branch in the 300 block of S. Fairfax Ave., and a robbery on March 27 at a Bank of America Branch in the 400 block of N. La Brea Ave. Prior to the robbery in July, the purse-packing bandit last struck on May 17 at a Chase Bank branch in the 6100 block of Pico Blvd.
Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to contact investigators with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division at (213)486-6840.
Tips can also be provided to detectives with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310)855-8850, or to the FBI at (310)477-6565.
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