SANTA ANA – The Blue Note Bandit’s remarkable run is over, authorities said Friday.
After a string of 15 bank robberies in Orange County during a two-and-a-half-month period, including in Costa Mesa, authorities on Wednesday arrested and booked David Andrew Camp, a 50-year-old unemployed salesman from Laguna Niguel, for allegedly committing the crimes.
A team of FBI and Orange County Sheriff’s Department personnel arrested Camp on an unrelated warrant from Los Angeles. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail but is in an undisclosed hospital because of an illness.
“The Blue Note Bandit is one of the most prolific bank robbers in recent Orange County history,” Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said at a press conference Friday. “The combination of intense media coverage, citizen tips and good old-fashioned police work involving 24-hour surveillance were the key factors in the successful apprehension of this individual.”
Authorities were tight-lipped about the evidence against Camp, citing the ongoing investigation. They did not immediately release a photo of Camp, and they would not say how much money he is alleged to have stolen.
They did say he faces severe debt issues and has a criminal history involving fraud, theft and narcotics violations.
The robber became known as the Blue Note Bandit because he sometimes passed notes on blue paper to bank tellers, demanding money and telling them he had a gun.
Acting on a citizen’s tip, the FBI and Sheriff’s Department had Camp under surveillance at his home for an unknown period of time before the arrest. They became convinced he was the robber, so they arrested him when they learned he had an outstanding warrant in L.A. for non-sufficient funds and fraud.
“We had a warrant that we could take him into custody for and then we could continue moving forward with the investigation of the bank robberies,” said FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking.
Neighbors of the suspect said 50 to 75 undercover officers swarmed their neighborhood and had the man spreadeagled on the ground before he was taken into custody, KTLA reported Thursday.
Police received numerous tips from the public after releasing surveillance photos of the suspect robbing banks and announcing a $20,000 reward for information leading to his conviction. They had multiple suspects but narrowed it down to Camp.
“I think the key was the last press conference and getting the word out there and the pictures out there from all the robberies,” said Lt. Tim Moy, commander of the Sheriff’s Department criminal investigations division. “That was when the tips started coming.”
Gicking said someone might be eligible for the $20,000 reward.
The Blue Note Bandit is not an unusually sophisticated bank robber, Moy said, despite the number of heists he pulled off and the notoriety he received.
“We thought that was lacking,” he said of the robber’s sophistication. “It was more a matter of luck and that luck running out eventually.”
Camp’s first alleged robbery was Nov. 30, and the most recent was Feb. 9. He is accused of robbing banks in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel.
Moy said the amounts the robber stole were “not that much” and noted that most bank robbers make off with less than $1,000.
Camp is married with two teenage sons, City News Service reported.
Along with the Sheriff’s Department and FBI, the other agencies participating in the investigation were the Costa Mesa and Irvine police departments.
The OC District Attorney’s office will prosecute Camp, Hutchens said.