A series of four robberies and assaults that victimized Korean women in Koreatown-area apartment building elevators prompted Los Angeles police Tuesday to ask for help finding the man they believe is behind the attacks.
The incidents occurred between Nov. 9 and Dec. 30 and follow and similar outline: a Hispanic male followed a lone Korean woman into an elevator, assaulted her and robbed her.
The attacks were called “vicious robberies” in a news release from the Los Angeles Police Department that said investigators believe the same person has committed the crimes. At least once attack was caught on video, which police hoped would help detectives find the assailant.
Video released by police that was taken from inside an apartment lobby showed a man sneaking up behind a woman whose arms were full of packages, then throwing her to the floor so violently that her body spun around on the tile. He fought with her, pulled her purse from her arm, and then fled.
The attacker was described as a 20- to 30-year-old Hispanic male standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighing between 130 and 170 pounds. He was often seen wearing sweatshirts and shorts, police said.
"He's taking [the victims'] purses or any property that they may be holding in their hands," said LAPD Detective Brenda Hardy.
"On the first couple of robberies he was able just to get the purses really quickly. However, the last couple of robberies, the females have held onto their property or resisted in some way," Hardy said. "And in each subsequent robbery, his level of violence has been escalating."
In an incident that occurred about 2 a.m. Dec. 23 in the 300 block of Alexandria Avenue, the man “sexually battered” his victim, punched her several times and then took her purse.
Just before 11 p.m. Dec. 30 in the 400 block of Westmoreland Avenue, the attacker followed his victim into an elevator, pressed a sharp object to her neck and attempted to take her purse. When she resisted, he slammed her to the ground, punched and kicked her and then took off with the handbag.
Similar incidents occurred about 4:25 a.m. Nov. 9 in the 300 block of Alexandria Avenue and about 12:30 a.m. Nov. 23 in the 500 block of Hobart Boulevard. In both cases, the man followed his victim into an elevator, punched her and took her purse.
It was not immediately clear which incident was shown in the video released by police.
Anyone with information about the robberies or who recognizes the assailant was urged to call LAPD Olympic Division robbery detectives at 213-382-9460. Anonymous tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
KTLA's John A. Moreno contributed to this report.