The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating a man dubbed the "moving bandit" after a string of robberies in Arleta, Pacoima, and Panorama city.
Police said the bandit would approach victims, often pedestrians and drivers on the street, and offer to pay them in exchange for helping move furniture. After the victims agreed, the bandit would take them to a residential area, then rob the victims with a handgun.
The police say that the bandit targets day laborers, people at check cashing services, and people at ATMs in the San Fernando Valley.
“[The bandit] asked them ‘would you like to make $50 by helping me move some furniture,’ so our victims agree and they hop in the vehicle,” said Mike Lopez, public information officer at the LAPD
One surveillance camera recorded the bandit meeting the stranger before driving off, robbing the victim, and kicking them out.
“Hopefully, they will catch him after a while, he will do the same,” said Genaro Castro, who was robbed of $400.
Residents have said they are worried for their safety, but don’t find the bandit’s actions surprising.
“You just gotta know the person. You don’t take jobs from random people,” said resident Isaac Amparo. “You gotta know them real well. You gotta know someone who knows them.”
Police said the serial robberies are intensifying with each successful robbery, and police have connected 17 thefts to the bandit. There is also speculation that the bandit was responsible for a kidnapping that occurred Feb. 2. The moving bandit’s most recent heist was on Feb. 8 in Van Nuys.
Officials have been investigating the bandit since May 2018.
The Los Angeles City Council Presdient Nury Martinez is offering a $15,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to his arrest.
“Any coward who preys on the kindness and vulnerability of the community deserves to be behind bars,” Martinez said in a statement.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Robbery Homicide Detectives Teresa Alonzo or Daniel Jaramillo at (213) 486-6840. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-247 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org, and click on "Anonymous Web Tips" under the "Get Involved-Crime Stoppers" menu to submit an online tip.