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Photos released of bike-riding thief who robbed credit union across the street from LAPD headquarters

December 15, 2009 | 10:16 am

Los Angeles police released photos today of the bicycle-riding bandit who robbed a credit union across the street from LAPD headquarters downtown.

Lt. Paul Vernon said the photos were captured by the bank's security cameras during the Monday morning heist. The robber was wearing a distinctive black backpack with small white polka dots when he entered the Southland Credit Union in the 200 block of South Spring Street about 10:25 a.m., Vernon said.

The suspect did not display a weapon but presented a note to a teller, who handed over the money. The man then fled eastward and abandoned his bicycle in a downtown parking lot, Vernon said.

He said the crime was similar to a robbery that occurred there in the summer.

"It was the same M.O. as the robbery Aug. 24 with the man fleeing on a bicycle. It was the same teller. But the teller says it was a different man," Vernon said. "It is possible that it could be a member of the same robbery crew."

The thief is described as a black male between 5-feet-8 and 6-feet tall and has a thin to medium build and a shaved head. He was wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans.

The mountain bike recovered a few blocks away will be checked for fingerprints, Vernon said. Detectives also will examine the credit union's cameras for images of the suspect. Police said there was a dye packet with the money.

Vernon said the Aug. 24 robbery netted very little cash. A dye pack handed over with the cash by a teller exploded over the money, making it unusable. Vernon said "a homeless man found all but about $40 of the money and tried to exchange it."

There were 171 bank robberies in Los Angeles County in 2008, the first increase since 2000. That comes to less than a quarter of those in the early 1990s.

-- Richard Winton

Photos: Security camera photos of credit union robber. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department.