The LAPD is seeking the public’s help in finding a suspect responsible for a series of armed robberies at fast food restaurants in Northeast Los Angeles.
The suspect threatens employees with a blue-steel handgun—either real or simulated—and demands money from cash registers at restaurants, LAPD Capt. Bill Murphy told reporters at a news conference Thursday evening at the Northeast Area Community Police Station.
“He usually gets it,” Murphy said, referring to the cash, adding that the suspect has “resorted to violence behind the counter.”
Murphy described the suspect as a 24-year-old to 27-year-old Spanish-speaking male who speaks English without an accent. About 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing around 135 pounds, he has dark-colored hair and eyes and is possibly light complexioned, Murphy told reporters.
The suspect has been captured on a video surveillance camera as wearing a hoodie-type sweater, with dark, baggy pants. (See photo). The LAPD has prepared a composite sketch of the suspect, which can be viewed in the photo section here.
The suspect is believed to have so far robbed seven business establishments in Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park—five of them fast food restaurants, including , and , Murphy said. One robbery occurred in a sit-down restaurant and another at a Radio Shack store in Highland Park.
All the robberies took place from Dec. 9 through Jan. 15. The suspect is believed to be operating alone and escapes on foot, although the possibility of an escape vehicle hasn’t been ruled out, according to Detective Miguel Barajas, who spoke at the news conference, along with Capt. Murphy.
“It’s very possible he is from Hollenbeck or Northeast,” Murphy said of the suspect, appealing to the public to call Northeast Area robbery detectives at (323) 344-5751. “if he looks like someone they know—someone who wears a hoodie all the time.”
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Craig Orange, who is in charge of Eagle Rock, told Patch that the suspect has targeted businesses between Avenue 26 and Avenue 50 in Highland Park and that he is believed to cross the nearby 110 freeway into Hollenbeck. "There are a lot of businesses he could be attracted to in the area but so far hasn't hit," Orange said.
In at least one incident, the suspect kicked an employee while demanding cash, Detective Barajas said, declining to give any further details because an investigation is still underway.
“What also concerns us is that the majority of the robberies have occurred in the [4-10] p.m. hours while families are purchasing food, and this could seriously harm someone,” Murphy said.
Anyone with information about the robberies or about the suspect should call Northeast Area robbery detectives at (323) 344-5751 during business hours and (877) 527-3247 during non-business hours. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or send a text to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tips may also be given online at LAPDOnline.org—click on “Webtips” and follow the prompts.