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 also working on the robbery investigation.
Police released photographs and surveillance video footage – taken 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.
That same morning in Glendale, police said the man stole a purse from a woman’s car and robbed another by pretending to have a gun.
In a separate carjacking incident in Los Angeles, he allegedly struck a 76-year-old woman before stealing her 2006 Toyota Highlander SUV.
Police officials on Tuesday said they were afraid the carjackings could escalate into more violent crimes if the man wasn't caught soon.
Detectives said the man has used the stolen vehicles to commit other crimes, including other auto thefts, vandalism and street robberies.
-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News