The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 19, 2012

Bank heist suspect arrested

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

NORTH KINGSVILLE —  A 47-year-old Kingsville man has been charged with robbing a North Kingsville bank late Monday afternoon, police said.

Police arrested Richard A. Hakala Jr., 6754 Reed Road, at his home less than three hours after a man slipped a threatening note to a teller at First Merit Bank, 6254 S. Main St., according to reports.

Hakala, charged with aggravated robbery, had his initial appearance in Eastern County Court on Tuesday morning. A preliminary hearing on the felony charge will be held at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 27, a court spokeswoman said. He remains in Ashtabula County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond, according to reports.

North Kingsville Patrolman Hugh Flanigan said officers were dispatched to the bank at 4:54 p.m. A man who had presented a note to a teller took an undisclosed amount of money and had fled on foot, last seen heading east along the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks. Two tellers, but no customers, were inside, Flanigan said.

No weapon was displayed and no one was hurt, Flanigan said.

Village police, assisted by the FBI, Ashtabula County sheriff’s deputies and Conneaut Police Department, arrested Hakala at his home at 7:50 p.m., Flanigan said. Bank money was found on the property, he said.

A deputy’s report contained additional information. The note given a teller indicated the man was carrying a gun, knew the addresses of bank employees and threatened to harm them and their families if they activated an alarm, deputies said.

The suspect, traveling along the nearby railroad tracks, was confronted by another man, deputies said. The man took a photo of the suspect’s identification, which provided the name of the suspect and an Ashtabula address. The suspect then identified himself to the photographer as “your neighbor on Reed Road,” deputies said.

Using that information, police — after verifying Hakala no longer lived in Ashtabula — quickly closed in on his Reed Road home. Reed gave officers permission to search the premises, and they found bank money under the house, in a kitchen cookie jar, under a mattress and in a bedside table, deputies said.

Reed was arrested without incident, officers said. Clothes worn in the bank by the robber were found discarded in woods close to the tracks, deputies said.

Monday’s heist was the latest in a rash of bank robberies within the region in 2012, including last month and April.