A brand-new automated license plate reader paid off in a hurry, as Cherry Hill police officers nabbed an Erial man Tuesday who police said committed eight robberies in just five days.
The license plate reader had only been activated for the first time that morning when Cherry Hill officers caught Robert Ford, 43, of Breckenridge Drive, Erial, on Route 38, after they got a hit on his black 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier, Gloucester Township Police Deputy Chief David Harkins said Wednesday.
Ford was arrested shortly after he allegedly robbed the Carrabba's in Maple Shade, the last in a string of robberies that Harkins said started with two in Gloucester Township's Blackwood section—the College Drive CVS on Friday and West Church Street's Sunrise Florist on Saturday.
The Gloucester Township robberies late last week apparently emboldened the Erial man, who allegedly proceeded to commit robberies in Deptford, Bellmawr, Cherry Hill, Pennsauken, Voorhees, and Maple Shade.
In each of the robberies, the suspect always demanded cash and threatened that he had a gun, but never showed the weapon, Harkins said. Investigators also determined Ford was driving his Chevrolet to commit the crimes.
Besides the license plate reader, Gloucester Township Police credited social media in catching Ford.
Police received 15 tips identifying the robbery suspect as Ford, Harkins said, after posting images from the CVS robbery on Gloucester Township Police Department's Global Connect community notification system, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages.
A task force consisting of detectives from the towns where Ford had allegedly robbed businesses, as well as the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, formed after the Erial man was identified through Gloucester Township Police Department's social-media efforts.
Ford is charged with first-degree robbery in all seven towns, Harkins said, and is being held in Camden County Jail.