For more than a week, authorities say, Larry Vail outran the New Orleans Police Department, taking part in a string of Uptown armed robberies.
But Vail’s luck ran out Thursday night, minutes after he took part in two more stickups and then bailed out of a Honda CR-V, police said.
Detectives collared Vail, 43, and then went to his home, where they discovered a trove of items they believe he and at least one other man stole at gunpoint.
Police are still searching for the second man, the apparent driver of the SUV, who escaped despite a cordon of officers from the 2nd and 6th districts. But they believe that with Vail’s capture, they have now arrested one of the men behind at least nine armed robberies.
“We’re not going to stop until we catch them,” 2nd District Cmdr. Paul Noel said. “We have to catch these individuals.”
Three of the armed robberies occurred Thursday night and early Friday morning.
About 9:30 p.m. in the 5600 block of Prytania Street, police said, a 33-year-old man was approached by a robber who put a handgun in his face and demanded his car keys and wallet. After the man handed over the items, the robber got into the victim’s vehicle but couldn’t start it. He then fled on foot.
About 10 minutes later, in the 5300 block of St. Charles Avenue, the NOPD said, a 23-year-old woman was approached by a man with a silver gun. The man pointed the gun at her face and demanded her car keys. She dropped them, and the robber fled in her CR-V.
That was when, police said, detectives were able to capture Vail. He has been booked on one count of armed robbery and 38 counts of illegal possession of stolen items.
Vail’s alleged accomplice — whom police described as African-American, about 6 feet tall, very skinny and wearing a Pelicans hat in at least one of the robberies — was able to escape. And they believe he continued the spree.
Police believe that about 5 a.m. he approached a 27-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman sitting on a porch in the 5500 block of Willow Street. He grabbed the woman’s purse and fled, police said.
Noel said he believes Vail and the other man also were involved in five other robberies Uptown over the past two weeks, as well as one that took place at a Magnolia Express at 9201 Airline Highway in Hollygrove about 7 a.m. Sunday.
At least one of those armed robberies turned violent. In that case, a 22-year-old woman was struck in the head with a gun on Audubon Boulevard near Tulane University’s Yulman Stadium on Tuesday night.
Noel said Vail did not confess to the crimes but did provide police with some information that may be useful.
On Friday afternoon, police said they had recovered the CR-V in the 2300 block of Harmony Street in Central City and were processing it for evidence.
As for the second suspect, “he got away,” Noel said. “We are still hunting him down.”
View the map below to see the locations, times, dates and gists of Uptown armed robberies this past week.
(Having trouble viewing the map? Click here.)