Tipped off by a newly installed license-plate-recognition system, Palo Alto police on Tuesday, Aug. 15, arrested a group of men at Stanford Shopping Center who they say were involved in an armed carjacking in Berkeley.
The police department was tipped off by a newly installed license plate recognition camera that a stolen vehicle has entered the city at about 12:47 p.m. on Aug. 15, according to a news release from the department. The vehicle, a black Corolla, was stolen at gunpoint in Berkeley the day before by three men armed with a black semi-automatic handgun, police said.
While looking for the vehicle, Palo Alto police received another alert from the camera system at 1:04 p.m. Tuesday, showing that the Corolla was near Stanford Shopping Center. Patrol officers and undercover officers ultimately found it in a parking stall on the east side of the mall. It was backed up into the parking spot next to another vehicle, a white Infinity G-37, and the occupants of the two cars were having a conversation, according to the police.
The two cars pulled away as soon as they saw marked police cars approach and they drove together through the parking lot of Stanford Shopping Center, toward El Camino Real. As they reached the Pistache Place exit, officers pulled over both vehicles. Police said the driver of the stolen Corolla tried to flee by driving up onto a sidewalk but then crashed into the passenger side of an occupied police car that was blocking the way.
Police said both vehicles had “minor damage” and no one was injured.
Over the course of the investigation, police found a loaded semi-automatic Glock handgun with a high-capacity magazine on the back seat of the Corolla, according to the news release.
Palo Alto officers also learned from the Berkeley Police department that the vehicle that had brought the carjacking suspects to the scene of the crime was a white Infinity. And they discovered that the gun was reported as stolen from Fresno at some point over the past few weeks.
Palo Alto police booked the driver of the Corolla, a 19-year-old San Francisco resident, for six felonies: vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and convicted felon in possession of ammunition, as well as one misdemeanor of resisting arrest for attempting to drive away from the vehicle stop.
Police also booked the passenger, a 20-year-old Oakland resident, on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.
Police credited the new camera system, which went live in late July, with facilitating the arrests. The Palo Alto City Council approved the installation of automated license plate recognition cameras last year, and six have already been installed. The police department plans to install another 14 in the coming weeks, according to the news release.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.