Arrest made in South Bay bank robbery spree

Alleged robber who escaped by taxi cab spotted by sharp-eyed Mountain View officer

Police arrested a man at the Pacific Inn on Wednesday who they say robbed five South Bay banks in recent weeks, three of them in Mountain View — and at least in one case using a taxi cab as a getaway car.

With the help of surveillance footage and an observant police officer, Peter Pearson, a 53-year-old transient, was arrested without incident in his room at the Pacific Inn at 7:18 p.m. Wednesday evening, police said. Police allege that he robbed Bank of the West on Castro Street on May 30, Wells Fargo on Castro Street on June 2 and California Bank and Trust at 700 W. El Camino Real on June 8. Pacific Inn is located on the 1900 block of W. El Camino.

Pearson is also alleged to have robbed a bank in Santa Clara and one in Sunnyvale, plus another attempted robbery in Sunnyvale.

Police spokesperson Liz Wylie said Pearson wore a baseball cap in each robbery to keep him from being identified by overhead cameras. But police were able to obtain surveillance footage taken from a liquor store near one of the banks that they believe caught an image of his face.

Wylie said Mountain View police Officer Mike Magana was able to identify Pearson in the surveillance footage as a man he had seen at the Pacific Inn after the June 8 robbery.

That was the robbery in which Pearson allegedly used a taxi cab as a getaway car, and police located the taxi after the incident, learning that the driver had dropped the suspect off at the McDonald's near El Monte. With this in mind, Magana had been doing a search of the area and saw Pearson at the Pacific Inn, not yet knowing he would be the suspect.

Upon seeing the surveillance footage, "Megana said, 'That's the guy I saw at the Pacific Inn,'" Wylie said. "Sure enough, he was. He was on parole for prior narcotics possession. Police found numerous pieces of evidence in his hotel room and arrested him."

Pearson was arrested on charges of five counts of robbery, attempted robbery of a second Sunnyvale bank and for violating his parole. He was booked in the county main jail.

The Mountain View Police Department press release on the case is available here.


Like this comment
Posted by docklh
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm

This poor guy has been through a lot and while it is his fault he actually is not a bad fellow. He actually was a world class Tennis Professional, not just a regular tennis pro, this guy played in Wimbeldon!

He just has a stealing disease and that cost him practically his entire life. He played at Golden Gate Park through the 80's and was known as one, if not the best player in Northern California for a decade.

In the later 90's his life spiraled out of control and he began to steal more and more and ended up in jail. After he got out apparently he began to do it more often until this latest crime spree.

I really hope this guy gets help. He is not a bad person, not the smartest obviously but he is not the kind of guy that would harm someone but more harmful to himself.

I hope they have some type of program while he is inside that helps people like him.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Does anyone know when and where the trial will be held?

Like this comment
Posted by Jconnor
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 27, 2009 at 6:25 pm

This guy is a repeater and a sociopath-he stole from his own mother. His prison stays previously sure haven't "helped" him and some folks are not comfortable in the outside world and this might be Peter's case. I don't belive he can ever change.

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