The SF Chronicle has reported an interesting case of a teenager arrested by police for a string of bank robberies and an attempted homicide. Although the 17-year old suspect went to great lengths to jam electronic signals while in a stolen luxury car, he apparently did not take very much precaution against simple video surveillance. It might be fair to say an obsession with avoiding capture did not mix well with what sounds like vanity and jealousy.
The detectives started only with reports from witnesses that a black-clad motorcyclist had been seen waiting at a nearby gas station before five shots were fired into a pickup truck parked on Evergreen Avenue in Mill Valley. Landon Wahlstrom and his 17-year-old girlfriend were sitting inside and ducked, according to the report.
Surveillance video at two gas stations where witnesses said they had seen the motorcyclist showed the apparent suspect. The helmet had "Bilt" written on it. That led investigators to a Cycle Gear retail store in San Francisco, which sells that model helmet. Surveillance video and transaction records showed the suspect buying not only the helmet but a dark visor, a black cloth face and neck protector, a black leather vest and black gloves.
The female victim was shown the video and identified Wade, from whom she had admitted buying fake identification cards and counterfeit driver's licenses.
Americans are so used to labels being displayed on the outside of everything that the suspect probably did not even notice the BiLT sticker or realize it's a unique form of identitication. Cracking the case is related to the luxury car, which was stolen from a dealership last year. Ironically it had been stored with the dealer by its owner, a celebrity cheft who was concerned it might end up in a chop-shop in San Francisco. Ok, pun intended. Once police identified the suspect on the motorcycle and realized the connection with the car they engineered the suspect into revealing the location of a 2008 bright yellow Lamborghini Gallardo. They simply used the girl's identity to ask for a date in the car. He fell for it and invited police to a storage locker in Richmond where they found everything they could want stored together.
The cache in the steel locker was a potpourri of gadgetry, disguises and guns. Investigators found a dismantled AK-47 assault weapon, an assault-type shotgun, electronics that can interfere with cell phone frequencies and a list of scanner codes for a variety of California law enforcement agencies. Inside the Lamborghini were three UHF signal jammers for cell phones and two radio signal jammers.
Most troubling of all, though, was the discovery of a full San Francisco Police Department uniform, including a badge and duty belt and some bags, containers and a mask.
"The mask resembled one which was reportedly worn by a suspect or suspects in a series of recent, unsolved bank robberies in Northern California," stated the report, which was prepared by Marin Sheriff's Detective Greg Garrett.
The uniform is definitely troubling and likely will bring charges of impersonation. The mask, however, is an odd detail. I leave it to you to figure out why he would store a used mask instead of destroy it, let alone put it with the evidence from other unrelated crimes to make it easy to link them all together.