The Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI on Tuesday officially announced a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the “purse-packing bandit” — a female bank robbery suspect who has struck 10 times in the local area since October 2012.
Investigators gave the suspect her nickname because she carries a large handbag during the robberies. She typically hands a teller a note demanding money. In the most recent hold-ups, she has also brandished a semi-automatic handgun and threatened tellers.
Los Angeles City Councilmen Tom LaBonge, 4th District, and Paul Koretz, 5th District, arranged for a $10,000 reward to be posted, while the FBI contributed $5,000. Authorities hope it will be an incentive for somebody to turn the suspect in to police. No injuries have been reported during any of the robberies, but investigators said the tellers and bank employees have been traumatized.
“This is a serious matter because someone is using a handgun in the commission of a crime in a crowded area of our city,” LaBonge said. “The gun could be used and someone could be harmed. This is an important effort by the police department and the FBI to solicit the public’s help.”
Koretz added that he is hopeful police will quickly apprehend the suspect.
“We are concerned about this robber,” Koretz said. “We are fortunate nothing has happened to cause anyone to be injured. We want to find this person before that happens.”
Capt. William Hayes, of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, said detectives are exploring multiple theories about the suspect’s identity, but would not provide specific details. He said approximately 5 to 10 percent of bank robberies each year are committed by women.
The purse-packing bandit most recently struck on July 21 at approximately 4:30 p.m. at a Chase Bank branch at 6120 W. 3rd St., and on May 17, she robbed a Chase Bank branch in the 6100 block of Pico Blvd.
The robbery spree started at a Citibank branch in the 8000 block of Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood on Oct. 20, 2012, and was followed by robberies in the Fairfax, Los Feliz and the Mid-City areas.
Det. Tracey Benjamin, with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Unit, said the suspect appears to know the area, and the detective surmises that the purse-packing bandit may have previously worked or lived in the community. No vehicle has been seen, and 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.
Anyone with information is advised to contact investigators with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division at (213)486-6840. Tips can also be provided to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310)855-8850 or the FBI at (310)477-6565.
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