Responding to a string of robberies in the normally quiet Las Virgenes banking community, the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station has launched a campaign to curb what is considered a significant increase in the last few months.
“For our area, which has been very quiet in terms of robberies, it’s a significant concern,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Bill McSweeney of the robberies in the Agoura, Calabasas, Malibu and Westlake Village areas.
In the past, the area averaged about five robberies per year, but since early October there have been nine robberies, including three at the same Malibu bank.
McSweeney said he gathered bank leaders, other law enforcement representatives and city leaders recently to discuss ways to increase security.
The banking community, he said, reacted swiftly and positively. Many members participated in an after-hours mock robbery conducted by deputies, who critiqued the performance of employees as well as provided information about what to do to help authorities catch a robber.
“We’ve also intensified the frequency that patrol units will visit banks and we’ll be more aggressive in publicizing photographs of robbers,” McSweeney said.
The captain could not put a dollar amount on the extra efforts, but said he is prepared to use additional manpower to “knock this phenomenon back.”
For the most part, the robberies have been quiet, with a note passed to the teller asking for money, and are over before patrons know what has happened.
With a few exceptions, the robberies have not been committed by the same person or people, McSweeney said.