Suspect in 25 Cases : Granada Hills Carpenter Accused of Bank Robbery

Times Staff Writer

An unemployed Granada Hills carpenter, suspected in a five-month crime spree in which as many as 25 financial institutions in the San Fernando Valley were robbed, was charged Wednesday with bank robbery, authorities said.

Los Angeles police said Ernie Ray Hendricks, 33, was arrested Tuesday night at a motel on Roxford Street in Sylmar by members of the Major Violator Task Force. Lt. Bruce Meyer said Hendricks is suspected of committing 17 robberies himself and another eight with an unidentified accomplice.

Meyer said investigators believe that the robberies began Dec. 11 at Valley Federal Savings & Loan in the 11100 block of Balboa Boulevard in Granada Hills and continued until early this month. The robberies occurred throughout the Valley, but authorities would not disclose exact locations.

About $50,000 was taken in the robberies, police said.

Hendricks was being held Wednesday by federal authorities in lieu of $50,000 bail after his arraignment on the charge he robbed a California Federal Savings & Loan in the 18000 block of Sherman Way in Reseda on March 25, said Fred Reagan, an FBI spokesman.

Charged in 1 Robbery

Reagan said suspects in multiple robberies are routinely charged with one robbery and other counts are added later. "It gives us time to make a full determination," Reagan said.

Meyer said Hendricks was not unusually prolific for a bank robber.

"They usually keep on going until they get caught," Meyer said. "He was robbing with increasing frequency toward the end. He was familiar with the Valley and hit throughout the area."

Although Hendricks' home in Granada Hills is in foreclosure, police said the foreclosure was not a motive for the robberies. But they refused to disclose a motive.

Hendricks routinely wore a hat and dark sunglasses, according to police. He often entered banks carrying a checkbook, they said. He would usually hand a teller a note demanding cash, police said. In some of the robberies, he showed a handgun in the waistband of his pants, they added.

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