Man robs bank, stops to read paper, gets nabbed

Police apprehended a man Friday morning just a few blocks from the bank they believe he robbed about a half hour prior to his arrest.

He was taken into custody on June 17 inside the Starbucks at 750 Castro St. -- where a plainclothes detective found him reading a newspaper less than 30 minutes after employees of the California Bank & Trust, located around the corner at 700 W. El Camino Real, reported they had been robbed by an individual matching his description, Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie said.

Employees from the bank called 911 at 9:09 a.m., Wylie said, telling dispatchers that a man had approached a teller claiming he had a gun and demanding money. The teller obliged and the man fled.

At 9:35 a.m., the plainclothes detective saw a man matching the suspect description. The man had changed some of his clothes, but the rest was the same as that described by the bank employees.

The plainclothes officer called for backup and kept an eye on the man until more officers could arrive.

While the officer waited, the man went into the Starbucks bathroom. At that point, the officer instructed everyone in the store to evacuate.

When the man emerged from the bathroom into an empty store, he had changed all of his clothes and had shaved off his mustache.

The officer took the man into custody, and he was positively identified by bank employees, Wylie said. Police found $1,100 on the suspect and discovered his previous outfit in the bathroom trash can. They did not find a gun.

They will continue looking for a weapon, but he may not have had one, Wylie added. He was arrested on suspicion of robbery.

Wylie identified the man as 53-year-old transient Lawrence Petitta.


A previous version of this story reported that the plainclothes detective discovered Petitta drinking a coffee outside of the Starbucks. He was in fact reading a newspaper inside the Starbucks.


Posted by GSB, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:37 am


Posted by Mark, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

Another bankrobbing caffeine addict taken off of our streets! This guy has GOTTA be nominated for the annual Darwin Awards for his stupidity, ignorance and lack of common sense.

Posted by Ed, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

If you want to hide from the cops, Starbucks is not the place to go....

Posted by Jeremiah , a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

It was super intense. I work at that Starbucks. One minute were working a normal Friday morning rush and then, all these cops were there like magic.

Posted by mug shot?, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

There is a mug shot of the perp in the Patch: Web Link

Posted by MM ADV, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

He robbed a bank and only got eleven hundred? I'll stick to the lotto.

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

The tip off was the fact that he was reading a newspaper.

A normal person would be looking at their iPad, notebook computer or smartphone.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

for once the bathroom at that particular starbucks was not locked and "out of order"

wonder if he checked that first....

Posted by Thom, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Almost sounds like it was his plan all along to get 3 hots and a cot.

Posted by The Eye, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

The Eye is a registered user.

Thanks for the mug shot, MV Voice! Now I have a new practice target to take to the range!

Posted by Marti, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Yep! I agree with Mark..... GOTTA be nominated for the annual Darwin Awards!!!

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I live in the building that this Starbucks is in and it's a really great feeling the walk around the corner and run into a bunch of cops with guns in their hands saying 'get outta here, sh*ts about to go down.'.

Doesn't surprise me one bit this guy went to this particular Starbucks location, it's a magnet for shady people that hang out downtown.

Posted by Partner, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

We smoke weed here all the time and the cops don't care. A bank robber comes in and it's news?!

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2011 at 10:49 am

The MVPD has a policy that if a someone calls and wants to turn himself in after committing a crime, they will meet you at a local Starbucks. You get one free drink and a free ride to the dept.

Posted by GSB, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Geez, Political Insider, do you ever have a non-snarky comment?

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2011 at 11:52 am


Posted by trev, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

way to go...hiding from the police at a coffee shop.

Posted by Mike L, a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Well, at least he was not hiding from the Police in doughnuts shop!

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