A combination of old-fashioned police work and an alert citizen were key in the Culver City Police Department's arrest Thursday night of suspected bank robber Danny Gaudio, 55, of Harrisburg, PA.
The suspect's signature getaway transportation, a bike, also helped a bit.
For Manhattan Beach Police Department detectives, after suspect Gaudio allegedly robbed U.S. Bank in Manhattan Village on March 29, the case had leads, just not enough that led them directly to the man they wanted.
But the information culled during their investigation was enough to point in a direction: Venice.
So, MBPD Detective Michael Rosenberger decided to post "Wanted" flyers about the suspect in grocery stores and other areas in Venice, hoping something might materialize.
On Thursday night, while a Culver City restaurant employee was working, in walked a man who matched the guy in the flyer the staffer had seen in a Venice market.
And so began the capture of Gaudio.
Culver City Police fielded the call and took Gaudio into custody, alerting MBPD, the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department-Robbery Homicide Division and the Santa Monica Police Department, each of whom were working cooperatively to solve bank robberies they believed were committed by the same suspect.
Ironically enough, Gaudio had arrived at the Pitfire Pizza restaurant in Culver City riding a bike, the mode of transportation used by the alleged bank robber in the MB and Pacific Palisades bank robberies.
Rosenberger told Patch Gaudio "admitted to his involvement in the crimes," which include a March 20 bank robbery in Santa Monica, the March 29 MB crime and an April 17 bank robbery in Pacific Palisades.
Rosenberger, who was among law enforcement who searched the Culver City hotel room Gaudio had been staying in, said they recovered clothing he wore in the robberies, the stolen Buick Enclave he'd been driving and the pellet gun used during the robberies.
What also helped MBPD with the case was surveillance video obtained from Fry's Electronics, where Gaudio can be seen about two to three hours before he robbed U.S. Bank in MB. In the video, he is wearing the same clothes as during the robbery and police were able to identify a vehicle and license plate associated with him, said Rosenberger.
The only trouble was that the plate did not belong to the vehicle, he said, giving the investigation an interesting twist when detectives pursued its numbers.
MBPD obtained the video thanks to Fry's personnel, who, on April 1 when more photos of the suspect were released, realized they'd been watching the very same man on their surveillance system, believing he was "possibly attempting to steal items," said Rosenberger.
Gaudio, as it turned out, was driving a Buick Enclave stolen from a dealership in Riverside County and had been "cold plating" the vehicle, said Rosenberger. In this instance, the Buick Enclave Gaudio was driving had plates stolen from another Buick Enclave on it so that when the plate was run, it matched up to the vehicle it was on.
Rosenberger said the FBI will handle prosecution of Gaudio, who escaped from a halfway house in Harrisburg, PA, on March 9.
Gaudio, who had been sentenced to 9 years, 2 months in prison for robbing a bank in Lexington, KY, and along Route 15 north of Lewisburg, PA, on May 5 and 9, 2005, respectively, told the court when he pleaded guilty to those crimes that he considered himself a prophet who was divinely obligated to make a cross-country trip to tell the president that America was being victimized by a government-led health industry conspiracy, according to a report on penlive, part of The Patriot News.
His prosecution in those crimes was delayed 13 months by mental health treatment.
The penlive report also says it isn't known how Gaudio traveled from Harrisburg to the West Coast. His last known address, which was in 2008, Desert Springs, CA.
Gaudio rode a bike to and from his robbery in Lewisburg, according to penlive.
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