By Juan Fernandez

LOS ANGELES ( — Southern California is known for sun, beaches, beautiful women, male bodybuilders.  But bank robberies?

If it seems that banks are being robbed here a lot lately — like almost on a daily basis — the FBI says looks can be deceiving.

KCAL9 reporter Juan Fernandez went searching for numbers to determine if Southern California has really become Bank Robbery Central.

He reported from outside a Chase bank in Van Nuys Thursday night that was held up earlier in the day. A bank robber ordered a teller to give him cash or threatened to blow up the bank.

No one was injured in the robbery, but officials did not say how much money was taken.

A 36-year-old man also allegedly tried to hold up a Santa Monica bank armed with a knife on Thursday.

Authorities say Roberto Durantes tried to carjack at least three different vehicles, as well as a bicycle.

No one could forget Wednesday’s robbery in South Los Angeles, where the alleged perps threw money out of a car window while police gave chase. Last week, robbers at a Bank of America branch strapped a bomb to a manager’s chest and forced her to rob the bank where she worked.

Despite what looks like an epidemic and crime wave, the FBI insists there hasn’t been an increase.

FBI agents have responded to 188 bank robberies in California so far this year. In 2011, there were 300 bank robberies here for the entire year.

According to the FBI, we are on par with last year’s numbers.

Fernandez reports the FBI concedes the crimes this year have been bolder and more high-profile.

The FBI is also still actively searching for the AK-47 bandit, wanted for a string of robberies dating back to February. He shot and seriously wounded a Chino police officer responding to the scene of a robbery.


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