CLEARWATER — Police said Friday they've nabbed their first car thief using a new license plate reader designed to identify stolen vehicles or cars that are not properly registered.
Robert P. Evans, 49, of 1974 Sherwood Street, Unit F, was charged with grand theft auto, aggravated battery, fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, petit theft, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
On Friday, he was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $131,050 bail.
According to Clearwater police, an officer on patrol in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 23106 U.S. Highway 19 N Thursday was using the new license plate reader when the system hit on a stolen license plate.
It was later determined that the vehicle, a 2002 Toyota Solara convertible, was also stolen.
While the officer was positioning himself "to tactically set up on the vehicle," police said, Evans came out of the store and got into the car.
Evans put the Toyota in reverse and rammed the officer's cruiser, police said.
As Clearwater police pursued the vehicle, Evans caused a crash at Palmetto Avenue and N Hercules Avenue, police said.
Police were able to stop the Toyota and take Evans into custody.
No injuries were reported.