It's a first in the memory of local FBI agents: A man who robbed two banks in New York last month has been connected to a robbery in Los Angeles last week.
"It's pretty unusual to have an active robber move from state to state," says Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the bureau's L.A. office. "It's extremely rare to have one move from coast to coast. I don't remember the last time I've seen that."
The latest crime linked to the suspect — whom the FBI calls the Coast to Coast Bandit — took place April 17 at the Chase Bank branch at 8140 Sunset Blvd., agents said. "During the most recent robbery, a victim teller advised that the suspect presented a note, which threatened a gun and a knife," according to an FBI statement. "The suspect was last seen exiting the front door on Sunset Boulevard."
Investigators believe the same guy struck on March 9 at a Santander Bank branch at 1062 Third Ave. and on March 13 at a Chase Bank branch at 450 Third Ave., both in Manhattan. Photos from the latter New York crime and from the L.A. robbery appear to show the same man wearing the same New York Yankees cap. "The Coast to Coast Bandit is described as a white male who may have had a sunburn when he robbed the bank in Los Angeles," according to the bureau.
It's not clear if the cap and the sunburn were meant to throw off investigators.
The New York and Los Angeles police departments are in on the hunt, according to the FBI. "He had a sunburn, so maybe he's not local," Eimiller says. "But the focus is still here because he robbed here most recently."
The hat did play a factor in helping investigators to connect the robberies. Eimiller says. "Our bank robbery coordinators throughout the country compare notes," she says. "And we can share bank surveillance photos instantaneously. It makes it much easier to ID people that way, and it makes it much more difficult to be a bank robber these days."
Indeed, the FBI believes the behavior of the possibly armed Coast to Coast Bandit is desperate. "We definitely want to get him off the streets," Eimiller says.
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Anyone who thinks they might have spotted the suspect was asked to call 911, the Los Angeles FBI office (310-477-6565) or the FBI's 24-hour line: 888-226-8443.