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"Salt & pepper" bank robber strikes again, police say

January 24, 2009 |  6:39 pm

Bank211 In the latest of a series of brazen thefts, a bank robber suspected of holding up at least a dozen banks in the Los Angeles area this month struck again this afternoon, police said.

Nicknamed the salt & pepper bandit because of his graying hair, law enforcement officials believe that the robber hit a Bank of America at 11501 Santa Monica Blvd. around 12:18 p.m.

Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Officer April Harding said the robber is believed to be responsible for at least 12 bank heists between Jan 5. and Jan. 22.

Among the banks targeted were three Citibank branches in the Valley, Willowbrook and Rancho Park and three Washington Mutual banks in Westlake and Seal Beach and on North Fairfax Avenue. Branches of First Bank, First Federal, Wells Fargo, Union Bank, Cal Bank and US Bank in the Los Angeles area were also robbed.

There were three days in which the robber struck twice, sometimes less than an hour apart, police records show.

“He has been very aggressive lately,” said Harding. “He’s become aggressive to the point where he’s having fun with it.”

Harding said the robber usually passes the bank teller a note demanding cash. He typically flees in a getaway car described as a gold 1993-1997 Toyota Corolla, she said. Authorities don't know whether he was armed or how much money he took.

Police have surveillance photographs of the suspect, whom they describe as a black male with a mustache and goatee. He stands 5 feet 11 inches and weighs about 170 pounds, police said, and is typically dressed in a two-tone reversible black and gray jacket.

“We know that someone out there definitely knows who this is,” Harding said. “We hope a tipster will call ... so we can bring [the robber] to justice.”

Anyone with information about the “salt & pepper bandit” is asked to call Det. Tracy Benjamin at the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division, 213-485-2511.

Photo: LAPD