The arrest of a 16-year-old gang member suspected of robbing eight banks has led investigators to speculate that gang influence may be partly responsible for a growing number of bank holdups in the Los Angeles area, police said Wednesday.
Lt. Gabe Ornelas, who heads the Los Angeles Police Department's bank robbery detail, said that investigators do not have hard figures to confirm their suspicions. But he said the holdup of a Security Pacific Bank branch on Crenshaw Boulevard on Monday raises his suspicions.
Ornelas said a gang member presented a note demanding money, then fled on foot to escape a uniformed LAPD officer, who happened to be in the bank. The youth is also suspected of robbing three other banks in Los Angeles, two in Pasadena and two in Monterey Park, according to Ornelas.
"This case confirms that we do have some gang influence," Ornelas said. "We're going to have to take a hard look."