For months, two men drove around the San Fernando Valley, scoping out banks and recycling centers for people walking out with cash. As they hit more than a half-dozen victims, frustrated LAPD detectives could do little more than compile unreliable witness statements and hope for the best. But last month, they turned to COPLINK, a new $1.3 million database that links Southern California law enforcement agencies. That system gave detectives the information they needed to identify the suspects, who were arrested as one of them roughed up a 63-year-old woman walking with a cane outside a Roscoe Boulevard bank. “Information has become the lifeline of policing,” LAPD Chief William Bratton told reporters Thursday during his monthly media briefing. “This new system is going to allow us to one, input information, and for all of us to access the shared information.” COPLINK has been quietly rolled out over the last few months, and will soon be in all Los Angeles Police Department patrol cars. It pulls together clues from arrest reports, jails, citations and crime records and makes them all available with just a few key strokes. Investigators can tap into databases from Los Angeles to San Diego and across the country and gather information, from a suspect’s description to license plate information to other agencies’ crime reports, jail information and other surveillance. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department already uses the crime-analysis technology developed by Knowledge Computing Corp., in Tucson, Ariz. In the case of the suspected serial Valley robbers, investigators tracked them through three letters from one of their license plates – TNV – and a report from the Sheriff’s Department. “We gave (investigators) three letters of the license plate and by the end of the day they had called back,” said John Dunlop, a detective at the LAPD’s Van Nuys Division. A system query for the license plate pulled up a series of suspects and possible leads, including the name of the owner of the personalized plate “TNV.” The car, along with the plate, fit a similar description of a robbery in Palmdale. The new leads sent undercover investigators after Ricky Marshall, 20, of Los Angeles, who they began to trail. Shortly after they began to follow him, Marshall picked up Angelo Newsome, 23, of Pacoima. Over the next few hours, they drove around the Valley casing banks, police said. When they spotted the woman with a cane leaving a Bank of America in the 20200 block of Roscoe, they made their move. Marshall dropped off Newsome in front of the bank as investigators watched. Newsome then grabbed the woman from behind, lifting her off her feet, and threw her to the ground, police said. She struggled as blood trickled from her temple. But Newsome finally snatched the bag filled with checks and a $100 bill before he took off running. Undercover police and bystanders went after him, and he and Marshall were arrested. Newsome is charged with three counts of robbery, two counts of assault with a firearm and possession of rock cocaine. Marshall is charged with one count of robbery. Both have pleaded not guilty. [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!