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BREAKING NEWS — Arlington PD Arrests Suspected Bank Robber

by ARLnow.com August 22, 2011 at 9:40 am 7,238 76 Comments

(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington County Police have arrested a man suspected of robbing up to six banks in Arlington this summer.

D.C. resident Peter Cifala, 57, was arrested on Friday and charged with one count of bank robbery.

“Though the suspect is charged with one robbery at this time, the robbery is believed to be related to a series of five other bank robberies that occurred over the past three months in Arlington County,” police said in a statement.

Authorities say Cifala was nabbed thanks to tips and increasingly detailed surveillance images.

“The pictures got progressively better,” police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal said. “The investigation was greatly assisted by citizens who called the police department with tips, and a tip from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Department”

“We’re happy,” Nosal added. “[The arrest] is going to be reassuring for bank employees and people who go into banks.”

Cifala was apprehended with the help of the Northern Virginia Violent Crimes Task Force, police said. He’s currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Center.

Cifala has a long rap sheet that includes more than 20 criminal convictions in Virginia, including nine separate grand larceny, attempted larceny and petit larceny charges in Arlington between 1991 and 2002.

Update at 1:45 p.m. — We’re told that a sheriff’s deputy in the Arlington County Detention Center’s booking room recognized the most recent surveillance photo of Cifala.

  • Chris M.

    There goes my lunch reading.

  • Nunya


  • Steve85

    Oh boy here come more “dog” and “tree” stories. Hopefully the topics will broad out

    • Ent

      I rather enjoy the tree stories.

  • Tre

    BB&T’s stock just went up 2.50%

    • Cherrydale

      Unfortunately that’s a better rate than their IRAs and CDs.

    • NPGMBR

      LOL Best comment of the day!

  • Squidward Tentacles

    Now everybody can to being normal again

    • Squidward Tentacles

      Can go back to being normal again. Sorry for the mistake

  • charlie

    good team work. look at all those police groups that worked together. awesome.
    my opportunity to catch the guy has diminished some..
    definitely sounds like they knew who it was along — just needed to confirm and then find.
    great work.

  • Ti

    Sam still insists that the entire police force must be replaced, as this arrest took much longer than he finds acceptable. I suggest he hold his breath and pout till he gets his way.

  • Rosslynite

    This dude has a rubber face. If he just employed the rubber face more effectively he would have been completely disguised and would have eluded capture.

  • brendan

    Hmmm.. I guess this what happens when you release images that people can actually see!

    • NPGMBR

      No doubt. I don’t understand why such high profile places such as Banks have such crappy surveillance systems.

  • Squidward Tentacles

    I hope that isn’t a human being

  • Lou


  • CrystalMikey

    Great news…and 57? Guess his 401k was empty.

  • YoBimbo

    Sad robber is sad.

  • Captain Obvious

    He was arraigned this morning and his preliminary hearing will be Sept. 22. His attorney is Jason Rucker, who is one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Arlington. The address listed in the court records for Cifala is Washington, DC. The one robbery he’s currently been charged with is the most recent one on August 16.

    • CW

      His defense will probably hinge on the definition of “robbery”. He’ll probably just say that he asked for some money and they gave it to him, and that the “implication” of him having a weapon was simply mis-inferred by the tellers and he made no such implications.

      That sad this is that, while I was joking, that probably will be his defense.

      • JamesE

        If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.

        • Brenda Van Susteren

          That line helped make my career! Other lines were eliminated by copious amounts of Botox . . .

          • Gretta Van Susteren

            No idea why I typed Brenda. I call “Fail” on myself.

          • Sue Herera

            You were probably thinking about Brenda Buttner. I know I was.

          • Josh S

            Yeah – talk about being in the right place at the right time. I remember wondering after the trial why she didn’t go away. I guess she got used to being in front of the camera and figured it was easier than actually being a lawyer….

    • Captain Obvious

      According to the court’s online records, he has a lengthy criminal record in the Arlington County Circuit Court, many larceny charges and revocations of probation. Arrested for two counts of grand larceny in 1990 and was found guilty of one (the other count was dropped). Arrested in 1993 for grand larceny; that charge was dropped. Pled guilty to two counts of habitual petit larceny in 1994, served some time for that, and served more time when his probation was revoked. Pled guilty to grand larceny in 1997. Pled guilty to grand larceny in 2002 and it looks like he served some time for that charge. His probation was revoked in 2006 and he served more time for that. There’s a long list; this is just a snapshot.

      • CW

        Sounds like the kind of fellow who might be inclined to steal from someone…

        • KalashniKEV

          They’ll just let him out again.

          • Aaron

            Well, he didn’t really hurt anyone and all the money he steals gets replaced by the insurance companies, so why don’t we just save upwards of $50,000/yr by not incarcerating him? I’m pretty sure the only thing he really needs is a job and maybe some subsidized housing.

          • Lumps

            Why don’t we just put him six feet under where he belongs. He will obviously rob again when he’s let out. There is no purpose for someone like this in society.

          • CW

            I am kind of bothered when I hear the “it is paid for by insurance” statements. Insurance companies don’t pay out those claims using a pot of gold they found at the end of a rainbow. At some point those costs feed back in. Just look at retail, where a nontrivial portion of the costs are incurred in accounting for stolen merchandise. It affects us all.

          • ShirliMan

            And where do the insurance companies get the money? From premiums that they charge. The more they pay out, the higher the premiums, which is more expense for the banks, which the customers end up paying by way of higher fees.

          • G Clifford Prout

            The deductibles on those policies are so high, that money just comes out of the bank’s income/loss account. They’ll easily make it up with more of those “courtesy” overdraft protection programs.

          • Shaking_Head

            OK, you give him a job. And house him. Hope he doesn’t steal from you too, although if he did you would be so nice as to offer him a job and a place to stay, right?

  • Don Ager

    Good job, ACPD. Now catch the other bank robbers.

  • YTK

    “Cifala has a long rap sheet that includes more than 20 criminal convictions in Virginia, including nine separate grand larceny, attempted larceny and petit larceny charges in Arlington between 1991 and 2002”
    And he’s STILL walking the streets???

    • chipotle_addict

      >And he’s STILL walking the streets???

      Seriously, with all that stolen money he should be able to afford a car.

      • Tabby


      • PikerShorts


    • JimPB

      It would be very expensive ($40-50,000/yr + the cost of the capital cost of the facility) to keep him incarcerated long-term, and the costs of care soar for senior inmates just as they do for seniors in the community.

      We need effective community supervision and control with work for pay on government projects when high unemployment, as there is now, essentially prevents such a person (long criminal record, few work skills, and older age) from getting hired by a business.

      • SaveDaveMcKenna


      • R

        So directly paying him $40-50K/yr salary + benefits to work on government (i.e., taxpayer funded) projects and letting him be on the streets to still commit other crimes is the answer? I’d rather keep him locked up at that cost you gave to taxpayers every year for the next 20+ years. And while we are at it bring back “hard” time by making them earn their keep and work off their debt…nothing wrong with chain gangs in my opinon.

        • Josh S

          I’ve got a better idea, R – why not stone him to death in a public square?
          If you’re too squeemish for that, maybe you could gather at noon in that same square and witness his hanging? Would you like that? I’m sure these days there would be plenty of microbrews and cupcakes available for your enjoyment.

          • R

            Yes Josh, that is exactly what I am advocating for…public stonings and hangings. You saw right through my comment regarding holding those who commit crimes accountable and having them pay off their costs through labor to get to my real motive of stoning people to death. In fact, why don’t we charge admission to the stonings and hangings to help fund the public coffers. Wow you are such an perceptive and intelligent fellow and we are all so fortunate to have you commenting in this forum. A person like this career criminal has had more than enough opportunities to turn their life around and become a productive member of society like many others in prison have done, but instead he chooses to continually be a criminal. For him I have no sympathy. And as for hard labor and making criminals work to to repay their debt to society…if a road construction job is good enough for many hard working citizens who obey the law, then why not for convicted felons too.

          • Richard Cranium

            NOBODY stones ANYBODY until I blow this whistle – even if he does say “Jehovah”!!!

          • The Queen

            Couldn’t we just send him to the colonies….Oh wait I forgot!

          • R0bespierre

            I’m good with that, let’s do it.

      • Lumps

        I’m so sick of do gooders trying to help these people. They are a cancer to society. Just get rid of them.

        • Rebecca

          agreed. it’s not as if this is his first robbery or “run in with the law.” I get it, people make mistakes and sometimes they learn from them. Not this guy. Lock him up.

          • LuvDusty

            Don’t just lock him up…make him work for free..someone has to make license plates and I’m sure there’s other sorts of important “supervised” work he could do, to actually give back some to the community.

            The biggest problem with jail is they often just let them sit there and they have too much free time to read, go to the gym and get into trouble.

            Put them to work. Hard labor.

  • Arlwhenever

    The Sheriff Department tip points to this fellow having been involved in AC’s criminal justice system before — bank robbery wasn’t his gateway crime. Let’s hope Cifala’s nexty conviction is in US District Court down in Alexandria.

    • SimplyDusty

      Yeah, about once every three years of his life he is CONVICTED. His gateway crime may have been being born.

  • Steve

    He looks like the offspring of Jerry Stiller and Hank Azaria.

  • Bender

    More than likely, I would expect the CA to offer this deal — plead to the one charge or else we’ll indict you on the other five robberies. And if the have good photographs and some other evidence tying him to this robbery, he’ll take the deal. More than likely, he’ll get at least ten years.

  • JimPB

    The big money isn’t found in the drawers of bank tellers or in the wallets of people on the street but in places of businesses occupied by white collars, and so the BIG losses from robberies (and from fraud) occur there, perpetrated by the white collars, the professionals we usually hold in esteem, and who live well in their enclaves of the wealthy. In spite of their prevalence and the enormous amounts they steal, they rarely occupy the inside of a cell. Crime often does pay, and pay well, for the white collars.

    • LuvDusty


    • G Clifford Prout

      So true, good example:

      It was a tough year for Bank of America, what with the foreclosure mess and a sagging stock price. Its chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, nonetheless received $10 million in his first year on the job.


      • Harry Rogers

        Yes! Exactly what talents does this guy have that qualifies him for $10mm a year? I make $80K and I know how to layoff 3,500 folks and ink rotten deals that drag companies under. Please. I’ll do his job for $500K per year. Let me know where to apply.

        • waaaah

          Yeah, that’s right. Stick it to the rich guys. Class warfare rocks!! We should go to his house and take all his stuff because he is successful and worked hard to get to where he is, while I surf the web all day and comment on postings on an Arlington news site and don’t make a lot of money. Sure you’d do his job for less, but guess what, in spite of what you think, you’re not qualified and wouldn’t know the first thing about running a complex financial corporation of that size. And guess what, he is not getting paid $10M for his first year. Read the article. He gets $950K base salary, no pay increase and no cash bonus. He got $9.05M in restricted stock and he needs to meet performance goals to receive that in the future and would need to be successful for the stock to be worth that much in the future. If you want good people running these companies you need to pay for them becauswe there is a lot of risk involved in being CEO of a company that size and it is up to the Board and shareholders of those comapnies to decide if someone is worth it or not.

          • Fred

            SILENCE!!! We will have none of your “logic” or “common sense” in here! Begone!

          • waaaah nothing

            You’re right, there is TERRIBLE risk involved in being a CEO of a major financial institiution.

            My goodness, he might get fired and have to suffer the shame of a golden parachute of a paltry $18 million dollars, like the CEO of ProPublica, or $22 Million like the guy from AIG, or that poor sap from BoA with his $53 million pension plan.

            They deserve every penny. I’m sure they’ve worked super hard for it.

          • BlueSkies
          • Tim Geithner

            We are still awaiting Mr. Buffett’s supplemental income tax check to true-up what he beleives he is underpaying. It seems to be taking some time to get here, I’ll update when we receive it.

          • Thes

            I believe Mr. Buffett would be willing to right that check if he knew everyone else in his situation was also required to do so, and thus make a meaningful dent in our government’s financial picture. As long as Grover Norquist is in charge of our federal budget, Buffett should not invest in it alone.

          • Thes

            that’s “write” not “right”. Though perhaps he might also be willing to right it.

          • Muh-neu

            That’s a cop out. “do as I say, not as I do”. Saying you’re only paying what the law requires and you pay more if the law was changed is pointless – that’s everyone’s argument. And it’s the correct one. If he feels he’s undertaxed, he should make up the difference.

          • Thes

            There are plenty of situations in which unilateral action is pointless or even counterproductive but mandated multilateral action has a benefit. Helmets for hockey players being one example. When hockey players were polled the majority wished everyone had to wear a helmet, but until it was mandated, few individual players chose to wear helmets because it put them at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, that’s why taxes are taxes and not voluntary payments in the first place. If we funded government only with the chumps willing to pony up voluntarily, we’d soon have no government at all. And before you go wishing for that result, visit Somalia.

  • JamesE

    Armand Assante what has become of your career?

  • Voting on Tuesday

    There is a primary election for county prosecutor on Tuesday. The choices: more of the same or change. This bank robber should never have been free to continue his criminal activities.

    Seriously, if the prosecutor’s office does anything, they fail to publicize their work. Maybe the lack of publicity is to hide allowing career criminals a free pass? For me, I cannot vote for more of the same when “the same” is so undefined (except, at least, for this career criminal running free).

    • Poodles

      Huh?? Your editorializing shows a fundamental lack of knowledge of how the criminal justice system vis a vis the courts actually works. If you are suggesting that the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office (that which you call the “county prosecutor”) in Arlington/Falls Church is “allowing career criminals a free pass,” perhaps some actual facts might be in order… keeping in mind that sentences are passed by judges, not prosecutors. Perhaps your oversimplification of the situation is intentional for dramatic license… Either way, it doesn’t hold water. The change you propose to seek in tomorrow’s primary offers only a challenger in the form of a career defense attorney whose only (and self-described) major difference from the career prosecutor also running is that your “change” is someone who unequivocally opposes the death penalty. How does that achieve the inferred harder nosed approach to prosecutions that you seem to suggest is necessary in Arlington? Me thinks you should re-think.

      • Voter

        Does any voter know what the County Attorney (prosecutor) has accomplished in the last five years? I do not. A murder happened within a few blocks of my house a couple of years ago, but no one has any idea if the person arrested was charged/convicted/plead guilty. It is hard to say “great job, let’s continue with the same” when the County Attorney works in silence to the public/voters.

    • Voted today

      “Seriously, if the prosecutor’s office does anything, they fail to publicize their work.”

      Good. Prosecutors are at their best when they are handling cases and not media whoring.

      • Voter

        A simple press release would inform the public. There is a vast gulf between informing the public — which is not done — and the “media whoring” argued. Failure to provide any information, but run on the “keep it the same” standard seems wholly inconsistent.

        Do we have a good County Attorney office? Who knows?

        • Bob

          And what standards do you propose they use to establish what is and is not worthy of a press release to keep you happily informed? Where do you draw the line between parking violation convictions and murder convictions? It is the function of an independent media to monitor and report on criminal cases they feel are of importance to the public. Perhaps you can suggest arlnow.com hire a court reporter… Your suggestion that a lack of never-ending, back-patting press releases from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to document that they are simply doing their job suggests that they are not is, well, silly… I, for one, would rather they continue to spend their limited budget on more relevant and important functions.

  • This guy was clearly an idiot and the process of natural selection is working.

  • Bob

    He was my neighbor when we were 16. He stole a dollar from me once. And tried for more when ever he got the chance.


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