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Valley News: LAPD Seeks 'Red Car Flasher'

Also: a string of armed robberies occurs in Burbank and a sex offender is arrested near a school with child pornography in his car, according to police.

Here are some of the top police and fire stories recently in the San Fernando Valley from areas not directly covered by Patch. Go to Calabasas Patch, Encino-Tarzana Patch, North Hollywood-Toluca Lake Patch, Northridge-Chatsworth Patch, Sherman Oaks Patch, Studio City Patch or Woodland Hills Patch for news in those areas.

Panorama City

Police released a second sketch Thursday of the man they call the "Red Car Flasher," who allegedly exposed himself to young women and teenage girls more than a dozen times.

Many of the flashing crimes occurred near Panorama City and Arleta middle and high schools. Detectives said they hope to make an arrest before school resumes after the holiday break.

The sketch released today -- available online at http://bit.ly/Xnl0BQ -- depicts a fair-skinned man with a receding hairline, believed by police to be between 25 and 40 years old. He may have a scar on one cheek, detectives said.

"Two victims in separate incidents have given us descriptions that have resulted in two nearly identical sketches," according to LAPD Detective Luz Montero of the department's Mission station. "We think the suspect lives in the area he prowls."

A red, compact car, possibly an older Honda, Toyota or Nissan, was common to all the crimes, police said, adding that the suspect may have tried to hide the license plate with a shirt or towel.

The most recent of more than a dozen occurrences happened Dec. 22, when a naked man jumped from a red compact car near Woodman Avenue and Lassen Street, and extended his arms toward an 18-year-old girl walking on the sidewalk.

"We're calling him a flasher, but since he has tried to grab victims, the stakes are much higher, Montero said.

Anyone with information on the Red Car Flasher was urged to call LAPD Mission detectives at (818) 838-9975.

Burbank

Police released surveillance images Thursday of a man suspected in three Burbank gas station robberies.

Authorities believe the suspect robbed committed several other robberies in Los Angeles and Orange County, Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department said.

The suspect is black, 25 to 30 years old, is 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 9 and weighs between 180 and 200 pounds, Ryburn said.

He has used a gun in previous robberies, Ryburn said.

Police urged anyone with information regarding the suspect to contact Burbank Police Department at (818) 238-3010.

"Do not contact or attempt to apprehend the subject," Ryburn said.

Police suggested preventative measures for business owners such as having surveillance cameras in working order, maintaining good lighting on the interior and exterior of businesses and keeping a clear view of the interior of the store and the cashier area.

Burbank

A 69-year-old registered sex offender from Moreno Valley was arrested for allegedly having pornographic photos of young girls near an elementary school in Burbank, police said.

Donald Cowan was pulled over for a traffic stop about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 1900 block of North Ontario Street near an elementary school, according to Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department.

Cowan, who was not wearing his seatbelt and was the sole occupant of the gold 200 Toyota Camry, admitted he did not have his driver's license, and a records check indicated he was a registered sex offender from Moreno Valley, Ryburn said.

"A subsequent search of his vehicle located young girls clothing in the trunk," Ryburn said. "Further investigation revealed Donald Cowan was in possession of pornographic pictures of young girls."

Cowan was arrested and booked for possession of images depicting persons under the age of 18 involved in sexual acts. He is being held on $380,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Authorities urged anyone who may have come in contact with Cowan -- a white man with short brown hair and blue eyes, about 5 feet 4 and 115 pounds -- to call (818) 238-3246.

Reseda

One person suffered minor burns and was taken to a hospital in fair condition after a garage fire in Reseda Wednesday that prompted a police investigation.

The fire was reported at 5:19 p.m. at 7358 Hesperia Ave., between Saticoy Street and Sherman Way and quickly extinguished by the first arriving firefighters, said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the first arriving firefighters, but the Los Angeles Police Department was called to investigate.

Detectives determined the garage "turned out to contain nothing chemical," Los Angeles Police Department Officer Bruce Borihanh said.

KCAL9 reported that a second person involved in the fire drove himself to the hospital.

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