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Public help sought in Southern California serial bank robberies

Suspects in a series of armed bank robberies are seen in undated photos released by the FBI in Los Angeles January 17, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Han
Suspects in a series of armed bank robberies are seen in undated photos released by the FBI in Los Angeles January 17, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Han

By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. federal law enforcement on Friday sought the public's help in tracking down two serial bank robbers who have held up a combined 19 banks in Southern California in a little over a year, but who are not believed to be acting in concert.

While the FBI is typically looking into dozens of bank robberies at any given time, these two robbers, both men, are among their "most prolific," an FBI spokeswoman said.

"We've been very successful in asking the public for help in the past," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. "Both of these men are absolutely considered dangerous. We want to get them into custody before someone gets hurt."

"The average take on a note job bank robbery is $1,000, if that," she said. "This may account for why they keep robbing."

One of the men, dubbed the "Valley Bandit," is linked to 11 robberies in the San Fernando Valley area in which he has brandished a weapon thought to be a revolver and pointed it at bank employees and customers, according to witnesses.

He has been seen with a getaway driver in two vehicles, a white SUV and a black four-door sedan, both believed to be Mercedes. Described as a Hispanic or Middle Eastern man in his 20s or 30s, he has been seen on bank surveillance photos wearing a baseball hat.

The other suspect, nicknamed the "Westside Gun & Bag Bandit," has been linked to eight robberies in the Santa Monica and Venice areas.

The suspect, described as a white man in his mid-30s to 40s, threatens his victims with a weapon and carries a brown paper bag that he places the stolen cash into. He has been seen wearing sunglasses and either a cowboy hat or baseball cap.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Steve Orlofsky)

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