What began as a simple shoplifting arrest for Gaithersburg city police led to the closure of five armed robberies for Montgomery County detectives.
It started with the arrest of Ta-Von A. Young, 19. Gaithersburg police charged him with shoplifting Dec. 6 from the Kohl’s store in the Rio shopping center, police said. He was wearing the same clothing as a suspect in a surveillance video the day before that showed the theft of a minivan, said Rebecca Innocenti, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.
Detectives noted the stolen minivan resembled a getaway vehicle at the scene of the armed robbery of a Subway restaurant Dec. 5, which took place shortly after the van was stolen. Confronted with the shoplifting and stolen vehicle charges, police said Young provided a name for his accomplice.
By Saturday, police arrested 24-year-old Timothy Luke Howell, Innocenti said.
“The officers already had their suspicions. Howell was also wearing identical clothing in the footage of the auto theft and the Subway robbery video from Dec. 5 and the shoplifting footage the next day,” Innocenti said. “But Young gave detectives information that they were able to use to further identify Howell.”
Police have not been able to confirm the addresses of either Howell or Young, according to a police news release.
The five armed robberies, from Nov. 4 through Dec. 5, were against three Subway restaurants in Gaithersburg and Germantown.
Detectives had earlier decided the Subway robberies were related based on not only the repeat locations but the appearance of the suspect and similar tactics. In each robbery, a lone man entered the restaurant, displayed a handgun and demanded cash from employees, police said.
Once surveillance footage linked Young and Howell to the stolen van, a white Dodge Caravan, the rest of the pieces quickly fell together, Innocenti said.
Young was charged with theft under $10,000, attempted theft under $10,000, motor vehicle theft, rogue and vagabond, and malicious destruction of property. Young was released on an unsecured personal bond of $15,000 Monday, according to online court records.
Howell was arrested with a loaded handgun and was subsequently charged with five counts of armed robbery, vehicle theft, rogue and vagabond, and a handgun offense, police said. Howell was being held on a $250,000 bond as of Tuesday, court records indicated.