Chalk it up to the Novato Police Department's ultra-cool, car-mounted electronic license plate reader for the arrests of two suspects on auto theft and drug charges.
A male parolee and woman, both from Novato, face multiple felonies Thursday after a two-day episode that started with suspects eluding an officer and ended with a dramatic surrender of the man one day later, police said.
Johnny Allen Morris, 42, and Oksana Elizabeth Collins, 21, faces charges of vehicle theft, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. In addition, Morris, who lives in Green Point, faces charges of evading a police officer, possession of stolen property and a parole violation.
An officer driving a patrol car equipped with the license-reading technology located a stolen vehicle at the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center at about 9 p.m. Wednesday and saw that two people were inside the green Ford pickup truck, Lt. Jennifer Welch said Thursday. The driver took off and the officer attempted to make a forced stop, but the driver didn't yield, she said.
Police pursued the car at normal speeds for about a mile until it stopped in the 1400 block of Donna Street, just off South Novato Boulevard, where the driver fled on foot. The passenger, later identified as Collins, was detained immediately while in the car and found to be in possession of drugs, according to the police report. Officers used infrared night-vision cameras to search for Morris, but he wasn't found.
The four-person Novato Response Team and other police investigators resumed the hunt for Morris on Thursday and received leads that pinpointed his location to Clay Court on the western edge of the Olive neighborhood. There was a confrontation described by Welch as "high risk," followed by talks with the suspect involving a crisis negotiator. Eventually, Morris surrendered peacefully, she said.
Morris had three outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The automated license plate readers were installed this summer on three patrol vehicles and are used daily to assist officers in finding stolen vehicles.
"This is a great example of how technology utilization can assist our department in apprehension of criminals and suppress criminal activity in our community," Welch said.
The pickup truck used by the suspects had been stolen the night of Nov. 29-30 from a San Anselmo driveway, according to CHP officer Patrick Roth. The spare keys were in the center console of another car in the same driveway, and it appeared that someone broke into that car and found the truck keys then stole the truck, Roth said.
The green Ford F-150 was one of two vehicles stolen from Tappan Road that night, according to Marin County Sheriff's Department records.