The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a fake beard-clad serial bank robber dubbed “The Bluto Bandit” who has robbed or been spotted at six banks throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties over the past week.
The bandit has robbed Chase bank branches in Pasadena, Duarte and Ontario, and has been seen “casing” other branches in Monrovia, Chino and Fontana, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
In each case, the bandit wore a thick, black, curly fake beard, prompting investigators to nickname him the Bluto Bandit, inspired by the bearded villain in the “Popeye” comic strip, Eimiller said.
He robbed a Chase bank at 3870 Foothill Boulevard in an unincorporated county area near Pasadena about 2:35 p.m. Tuesday, then robbed another Chase bank at 1000 Huntington Drive in Duarte about half an hour later, Eimiller said. The robber was also seen casing a Monrovia bank in between the two robbers, as well as a Fontana bank later in the afternoon.
In the Pasadena and Monrovia heists, the robber quietly approached tellers and handed over notes demanding cash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said.
“He didn’t really even speak,” the lieutenant said.
But the serial bandit’s crime spree began June 10, when he robbed a Chase bank at 1070 N. Mountain Avenue in Ontario, according to the FBI. He was spotted casing a Chino Chase bank two days later.
Investigators described the robber as a Latino man, 28 to 30 years old, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 195 pounds. In all of the crimes, he wore his fake beard and a blue, long-sleeve Pendleton-style shirt.
He’s been spotted getting into a white, newer-model Volkswagen Jetta with tinted windows and final three license plate digits of “665.”
No weapon has been seen during the crimes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI Los Angeles Office at 310-477-6565.
PHOTOS from robberies in Duarte (above) and unincorporated Pasadena (below) courtesy of the FBI.
IRWINDALE >> An AB 109 probationer is accused of violating a restraining order and carjacking his ex-girlfriend early Sunday, officials said.
Officers arrested Manuel Martinez, 21, of Duarte on suspicion of carjacking and violating a criminal protective order following the incident, which took place shortly after midnight at an ARCO gas station at 110 E. Longden Ave., according to Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto.
Martinez, who was on post-release community supervision under AB 109 guidelines following a domestic violence conviction and was barred by court order from contacting the woman, approached the woman at the gas pumps, Gatto said.
Martinez demanded a ride, but the woman refused, the sergeant said. He then pulled the woman from the driver seat of the car, wrestled her keys away from her and drove away in her vehicle. The woman suffered minor injuries but declined medical treatment.
Police found the car abandoned near Pamela Park in Duarte about 30 minutes later, Gatto said. Officers found Martinez in the 400 block of Shrode Avenue in Duarte and took him into custody without a struggle.
Martinez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court, records show.
PHOTO of suspect Manuel Martinez, 21, of Duarte courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department
DUARTE >> Three men carjacked a man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Duarte Walmart store Friday evening, officials said.
The crime occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot at 1600 Mountain Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Haynes said.
The victim, a man of about 30, was approached by three men who brandished a gun and demanded his car, the sergeant said. The carjackers fled in the victim’s silver Acura sedan.
No injuries were reported. A suspect description was not available.
DUARTE >> Deputies are seeking clues in the shooting of a man Thursday in a residential neighborhood, authorities said.
The shooting occurred just before 1 a.m. in the 2400 block of Myrtle Avenue, in an unincorporated county area surrounded by Duarte, Monrovia and Arcadia, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies responding to reports of the shooting encountered the victim, a man in his 40s, suffering from a superficial gunshot wound, Sgt. Ed Mackenzie of the sheriff’s Temple Station said. Paramedics took him to a hospital for treatment of the wound, which was not believed to be serious.
The circumstances and motive in the shooting remained under investigation, he said. No suspect description was available.
DUARTE >> Three people escaped injury in a shooting on a residential cul-de-sac early Sunday, officials said.
The shooting took place about 12:30 a.m. in the 1300 block of Starhaven Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Martinez said.
Three victims were on foot when two attackers opened fire on them before fleeing in a car, the sergeant said. The group of victims suffered no injuries.
A detailed description of the suspects or their car was not available.
DUARTE >> Deputies are investigating the stabbing of a man in a residential Duarte neighborhood late Friday.
The crime was reported about 8:15 p.m. in the 1400 block of Crestfield Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Oscar Lopez said.
Deputies responding to a report of an injured person found the victim, a man in his early-20s, out on the street suffering from a stab wound to his abdomen, the sergeant said. The injury was not believed to be life threatening.
No information regarding the circumstances of the attack or a possible suspect was available.
Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
DUARTE >> A man fled with an unknown amount of cash after robbing a Little Caesars pizzeria late Saturday, officials said.
The crime took place about 9:15 p.m. at the restaurant, 1336 Huntington Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Julie Geary said.
A robber with a black handkerchief covering his face entered the store and demanded money from a female employee, the sergeant said. The victim complied, and the robber fled the area in a green Nissan vehicle.
No weapon was seen during the robbery, Geary added.
A detailed suspect description was not available.
DUARTE >> Deputies used a Taser to subdue a fleeing suspect armed with two Samurai swords in Duarte Thursday, officials said.
The bizarre incident began about 10:30 a.m. when the suspect’s mother called deputies to report that her 38-year-old son had swung a sword at her at her home in the 2000 block of Royal Oaks Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said. The woman, who was in her 50s, was not injured.
Following the alleged assault, the suspect fled from the home with two Samurai swords, Chavez said. Deputies encountered Andrew Kao about 10 minutes later several blocks to the south along Huntington Drive.
“He had the two swords on him in his waistband,” Chavez said. “He was refusing to cooperate with deputies. He ended up trying to grab the weapons and they Tased him.”
Officials took Kao to a hospital to be examined and treated prior to booking him on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Chavez said.
Kao stays with her intermittently, Chavez said.
DUARTE >> Sheriff’s deputies and wildlife officials kept watch Sunday morning as a female bear with two cubs loitered in a Duarte neighborhood for more than five hours Sunday.
Authorities first received reports about 6:50 a.m. of a bear and two cubs wandering in the 1000 block of Junipero Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials responded and found the female bear hiding in a front yard tree, but did not spot the cubs, McBride said.
Officials continued monitoring the bear, but avoided using tranquilizers or other aggressive means to shoo the bear away because it had cubs.
By noon, officials kept watch as the bear and cubs slowly made their way north back toward the forest, McBride said.
It was not clear if the bruin family was the same that visited a Monrovia neighborhood just over a mile away earlier this month to pilfer avocados.
The animals drew a large crowd of onlookers Sept. 10 as they spent the entire afternoon in the 200 block of East Olive Avenue before scampering off at dusk.