Southern California breaking news and trends

FBI's unidentified bank robber swings into an eighth SoCal branch

Chase Bank in Cerritos, CA was the latest target of the "Plain Jane Bandit."

plain jane bandit

Images via FBI

Bank surveillance images of the "Plain Jane Bandit" from Monday's attempted robbery.

plain jane bank robber

Photo: LABankRobbers.org

The "Plain Jane Bandit" is wanted by the FBI in a series of Southland bank robberies.


The L.A. Times reports the FBI's "Plain Jane Bandit" has targeted an eighth Southern California location with a Tuesday morning heist at Chase Bank in the 11900 block of South Street in Cerritos.

Suspected now in six robberies and two attempted robberies since mid-July, the unidentified woman in Tuesday's incident used the same tactics of claiming an accomplice is waiting outside. She made off with an undisclosed sum at about 10:40 a.m.

Estimated to be 35 to 40 years old, 5'3" to 5'5" tall, and weighing up to 170 pounds, the suspect has been described by some witnesses as Hispanic with a possible scar near her right eye, and a possible tattoo on her right shoulder area. She may also be driving a silver, four-door vehicle. No witnesses have reported seeing an accomplice, say authorities.

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Hiding in plain sight: 'Plain Jane Bandit' hits another SoCal bank

plain jane bandit

Images via FBI

Bank surveillance images of the "Plain Jane Bandit" from Monday's attempted robbery.

The FBI calls her "Plain Jane," but with ties to seven Southern California bank robberies since mid-July, the unidentified bandit's file is becoming heavily decorated. 

A Bank of America branch at 10010 Paramount Blvd. in Downey was her latest target during an attempted robbery Monday at approximately 2:15 p.m.  

The suspect -- estimated to be 35 to 40 years old, 5'3" to 5'5" tall, and weighing up to 170 pounds -- was described by some witnesses as Hispanic with a possible scar below or next to her right eye, and a possible tattoo on her right shoulder area. She may also be driving a four-door silver vehicle with a sunroof.

Officials with U.S. Bank are offering a reward of up to $10,000 in exchange for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Downey incident was her second attempted heist -- five other bank robberies were successful.

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LASD recalling 200 official-looking badges and identification cards

Sheriff Badge cudahy

Photo via U.S. attorney's office

The U.S. attorney's office released this photo it says was taken at a Cudahy night club showing an unidentified woman wearing Councilman Osvaldo Conde's sheriff's badge as she holds his gun in one hand and his bodyguard's in another. Conde was one of three Cudahy officials arrested last month on bribery charges.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is recalling about 200 official-looking badges and ID cards that were distributed to local politicians.

The faux credentials, handed over to people without law enforcement responsibilites, have the potential for abuse, say critics, who believe the items may have been rewards for political contributions.

Sheriff Lee Baca's decision to round up the badges comes only weeks after the FBI arrested three Cudahy officials on bribery charges.

The L.A. Times reports the move to recall was prompted by the release of a photograph showing a woman in Cudahy nightclub with two handguns, and wearing a councilman's badge.

LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Times the timing is a coincidence, and said a 2007 state attorney general's warning is what prompted the recall.

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Three Cudahy officials indicted on bribery charges

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

The L.A. Times is reporting that three Cudahy city officials -- Mayor David Silva, Councilman Osvaldo Conde and city employee Angel Perales -- have been indicted on federal bribery charges for soliciting and accepting $17,000 from an individual looking to open a medical marijuana shop.

FBI officials descended on the city Friday morning, according to the newspaper, however it was unclear if the men were taken into custody.

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, confirmed with KPCC that three men had been indicted, saying further details were to follow as "law enforcement operations continue."

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Tidbits from the FBI's initial report on crime in the United States

FBI insignia

The FBI released numbers from its annual report on crime in the United States.

Initial findings from the annual Uniform Crime Report are out, and appear to contain good news: violent crime went down 4 percent and property crime 0.8 percent nationwide in 2011. 

In the city of Los Angeles, violent crime went down in every category except murder (there were 297, 4 more than in 2010) and arson. Locally, murder more than doubled (to 15) in Anaheim and (to 7) in Pasadena in 2011, bucking the national trend. 

A few additional interesting tidbits:

  • Los Angeles seems to experience an inordinate number of arsons: 1,376 in 2011, a large number even for a big city. The next closest was Detroit, with 957, albeit with a much smaller population than LA. 
  • Murder seems to be going rural or suburban. Down almost everywhere, homicide spiked in cities under 25,000 and especially in cities under 10,000 in population.
  • Oakland, CA had a nasty year for violent crime. Murder went up from 90 to 104 in 2011 and only rape and arson went down in the violent crime category. 

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