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POLICE ARREST OREM MAN AT MALL IN `TOP GUN’ PROBE

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Remember the Top Gun bandit? Police say he's finally been caught.

Police arrested an Orem man Wednesday who they believe is the bandit who committed more than 14 armed robberies and has eluded law enforcement officers from throughout Salt Lake County for the past year.The Top Gun bandit was so named because the gunman in more than a dozen Murray, West Jordan, Sandy and Salt Lake County robberies wore a baseball cap with the name of the movie "Top Gun" embroidered across the front in gold letters.

Sandy Police Detective Mark James, who has been trying to track down the pot-bellied bandit from the start of the Top Gun crime spree in October 1988, arrested the man Wednesday afternoon at the South Towne Mall. Top Gun is believed to have committed five robberies in Sandy alone.

Only minutes before the arrest, the Hi-Land Credit Union, 175 E. 6100 South had been robbed.

During that robbery, the gunman displayed many of the characteristics that have become familiar to investigators during the past year. The robber displayed a small silver handgun, demanded money from the teller, ordered her into a back room and demanded that she count to 50 before coming out, said Murray Police Sgt. Pete Fondaco.

The man was not wearing a "Top Gun" hat, but did wear a fake beard - an item worn by robbers in three recent bank holdups.

But unlike the many robberies before, a witness saw the man jump into a vehicle and wrote down the license plate number. Police traced the plate to an Orem residence and broadcast an "attempt to locate" to other police agencies, Fondaco said.

James said he heard the ATL broadcast and drove from the Sandy police station to the I-15 interchange at 10600 South, hoping to intercept the car.

About 30 minutes after the Murray robbery, James spotted the car described in the ATL traveling east on 10600 South toward the South Towne Mall. James followed the car there and arrested a man in the parking lot.

Officers were on their way to stake out the Orem address when James made the arrest.

Murray officers recovered a gun, a bag of cash and a fake beard from the vehicle. FBI agents and officers from Sandy, Murray and Salt Lake County questioned the man Wednesday night about the credit union robbery and several others. James said the man gave information about 15 robberies.

Kenneth G. Trane, 47, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of four counts of aggravated robbery. He is being held without bail.

In December, officers charged a Sandy man with the robberies, but those charges were later dismissed.