San Leandro police are crediting a license plate reading system with identifying two stolen cars over the weekend -- the third and fourth stolen vehicles recovered in less than a week thanks to the system.
Police say the computerized system, or LPR, alerted officers to the cars in separate incidents Friday night. In the first incident, police pursued a stolen SUV into nearby Oakland, where the driver sideswiped a police car, crashed into a parked car, then managed to escape capture after the crash.
In the second incident of the night, police recovered the stolen vehicle and arrested the driver.
The recovery of the stolen cars comes after the system last Sunday led to an arrest of a parolee with what police described as a “history of arrests involving stolen vehicles,” while also identifying two stolen cars.
A police spokesman says the arrest last Sunday evening came after an officer on patrol was alerted by the system that a Honda Accord the officer had just passed in his squad car had been reported stolen in nearby Newark on June 12.
When the car’s driver and sole occupant, later identified as a 31-year-old Timothy Walsh of Richmond, stopped on his own the officer got out of his patrol car.
But police say Walsh then sped off, driving over a sidewalk and leading the officer on a short pursuit.
The street pursuit came to an end when Walsh crashed the stolen car crashed into the crossing arms of a railroad crossing, shearing the arms off at the base.
He was arrested after running into a commercial yard, where a police dog later located him trying to hide on top of a recreational vehicle.
“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 last 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 Walsh had been paroled from prison as part of a 2011 California law intended to reduce the state’s prison population.
Police say the Honda was the second stolen vehicle identified last 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. Police do not believe that those two cases are related.