PINOLE— An armed robbery suspect was arrested thanks to a victim who photographed his getaway car, and an automated license plate reader that helped authorities locate him.
Police received a report of armed robbery that occurred shortly before noon on September 25 at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, located at 1251 Tara Hills Drive in Pinole.
A man stole merchandise from the store and brandished a firearm when he was confronted outside. Then he threatened to shoot a store employee and one other person.
The suspect fled from the scene without shooting anyone, but not before one of the victims took a photograph of his getaway car—capturing an excellent image of the license on a grey Hyundai Accent.
Investigating Pinole police officers entered the license plate number into a national database of vehicles sought by the police.
About 48 hours later, an automated license plate reader in San Pablo alerted police that a vehicle nearby was associated with a recently committed crime.
San Pablo officers located and stopped the vehicle near Road 20 and 19th Street, and detained the occupants until officers from Pinole arrived.
Detectives from the Pinole Criminal Investigations Division identified the driver as Willie Johnson, a 41-year-old man from Richmond, and one of the robbery victims later positively identified Johnson as the man who had committed the robbery in Pinole.
Johnson was arrested on September 27, charged with first degree robbery, and probation violation. He’s in custody at the West County Detention Facility, held for $100,000 bail.