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Crime & Justice

Police hope video footage from gas station will help them catch ‘Opportunistic Bandit’

Police have released new video footage of the man they are calling “The Opportunistic Bandit,” responsible for at least a dozen crimes throughout the greater L.A. area.

The LAPD has been hunting the bandit for a month, and hopes that footage taken April 15 from a Hollywood gas station’s surveillance camera will help catch him.

In it, the suspect is seen following a woman into the gas station on the 1700 block of Highland Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. while he appears to talk on his phone. He makes conversation with the woman off-camera before following her out of the store. According to an LAPD press release, from there the man followed her to her car and “entered through the passenger door. He hit the victim a number of times and forced her out of her car. The suspect drove away with the victim’s car and purse.”

That incident was one of three carjackings the bandit is accused of. In all, the 12 crimes are mostly strong-arm robberies, often of women who had just withdrawn money from an ATM machine -- but also include car burglaries and even two vandalisms.

In one of the carjackings, a 76-year-old woman was assaulted and her purse stolen.

The crimes have occurred in several cities including Glendale, Pasadena, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, police said.

Although the bandit has pretended to brandish a handgun in some of his crimes, he has not actually produced one. So far none of his victims has been seriously hurt, police say.

Despite the camera footage, a police description of The Opportunistic Bandit is surprisingly vague: He is said to be a bald black man, somewhere between 5-foot-9 and 6-foot-4, between 180 and 250 pounds, and between 25 and 35 years old.

Anyone with information that could help catch him is asked to call Detectives Steve Koman or Tom Thornton at (213) 486-6840, or call 877-LAPD-24-7, or text “LAPD” and the tip to 274637.