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.