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San Leandro police: license plate reading system leads to arrest, 2 stolen cars

San Leandro police say the driver of this stolen car crashed at a railroad crossing, then ran from police.  He was captured a short while later.
San Leandro police say the driver of this stolen car crashed at a railroad crossing, then ran from police. He was captured a short while later.
San Leandro Police Department

San Leandro police say a license plate reading system has led to the arrest of a parolee with a “history of arrests involving stolen vehicles” while also identifying two stolen cars Sunday.

A police spokesman says the arrest came Sunday evening after an officer on patrol was alerted by the system, or LPR, that a Honda Accord the officer had just passed in his squad car had been reported stolen earlier this month in nearby Newark.

When the car’s driver and sole occupant, later identified as a 31-year-old Richmond man, stopped on his own the officer got out of his patrol car. But police say the driver then sped off, driving over a sidewalk and leading the officer on a short pursuit.

The street pursuit came to an end when the stolen car crashed into the crossing arms of a railroad crossing, shearing the arms off at the base.

The suspect jumped out of the wrecked car and ran into a fenced commercial yard. After witnesses helped direct officers in the direction he had fled, a police dog later located the suspect trying to hide on top of a recreational vehicle.

With the help of the dog, the suspect was arrested without incident.

“Without the assistance of the LPR computer alerting the officer of this stolen Honda, it would never have been stopped. It was just one of many cars driving down the street that the officer had passed while on patrol,” San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said in a statement late Sunday.

“The only difference was, this Honda was stolen. Once again, our community is to be credited with assisting in this arrest, as without their help, we may not have found the suspect so quickly,”

Police later determined that the suspect was recently paroled from prison as part of a 2011 California law intended to reduce the state’s prison population.

The name of the suspect is not being immediately released while detectives work with other police agencies to see if he was involved in other crimes in the area.

Police say the Honda was the second stolen vehicle identified Sunday by the same officer using the LPR technology.

Earlier in the day, the officer was on patrol when the LPR computer alerted to a stolen vehicle parked on the street.

That vehicle was unoccupied and no arrests have been made in that case. Police do not believe that the two cases are related.

San Leandro police have utilized the surveillance system since 2008. It’s use has prompted privacy concerns among some, but police say several arrests have been made in the last year alone thanks to the technology.

After the arrest of a burglary suspect was credited to the LPR system in February, San Leandro police Chief Sandra Spagnoli said in a tweet the equipment was an “effective technology” and that it was “making the city safer.”

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