A man suspected of robbing 11 banks since May in the San Fernando Valley tried to rob a 12th Wednesday in Canoga Park but instead walked right into a police stakeout and was arrested, Los Angeles police said.
Terry Drake Ball, 42, was arrested by undercover officers at 11:15 a.m. as he left a Southwest Savings & Loan branch with about $2,400 dollars he had stolen after "literally taking over the place," Detective Joe Getherall said.
Police said they had dubbed the suspect in the series of Valley robberies "the Little Counter Jumper" because of his small stature and habit of leaping over bank counters and rifling the money drawers.
Getherall said that, in the Canoga Park robbery, Ball entered the savings and loan at 20061 Saticoy St., waved a handgun and ordered all employees and customers to lie on the floor. He then leaped over the counter and began taking money from tellers' drawers and stuffing it into a paper bag, the detective said.
Officers outside chased Ball down before he was able to enter his car, Getherall said.
He said more than $75,000 was taken in the 11 other robberies linked to Ball by police.
The arrest ends a joint investigation by Los Angeles police and the FBI that began in May after a robbery at a Great Western Savings & Loan on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park, Getherall said.
Although bank cameras recorded the earlier crimes, he said, the pictures were not clear enough to identify the robber.
No one was injured in the robberies, he said.
Each weekday for the last several weeks, police staked out "numerous" banks from Glendale to Woodland Hills in hopes of catching the robber, the detective said.
"He was very consistent in the way he operated," Getherall said. "He was a pro who, from what we can tell, always worked alone and usually struck his banks before noon."
Ball has been convicted of bank robbery twice before in Los Angeles, Getherall said. He was convicted in the mid-1970s and was given a 12-year suspended sentence, then was convicted again in 1979. That time, Getherall said, Ball served a five-year sentence and was released from federal prison Feb. 15.
Ball was assigned to a halfway house in Los Angeles and lived there until April, Getherall said. Police do not know where he has lived since, the detective said, but they believe it is in the Valley.
Ball was arrested on suspicion of bank robbery and was being held at central police headquarters. Bail was not immediately set. Ball was expected to be transferred to the custody of federal authorities late Wednesday, Getherall said.