1 charged in recent car thefts, but more may face arrest
A 19-year-old suspected of stealing at least five vehicles over the past week is facing charges after an investigation by Tuscaloosa Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Robert Lee Johnson Jr. of Cottondale was arrested Tuesday and is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with bond set a $150,000. Johnson has other bonds on unrelated prior charges, and that bond is expected to be revoked.
The first stolen car was reported Wednesday, July 6. The vehicle’s owners said they left it running while going inside a gas station to make a purchase.
Over the next few days, four more vehicles were stolen from gas stations under similar circumstances.
“All of these cars were stolen because they were left running or a key was left inside,” said CID Commander Capt. Kip Hart. “It just takes a split second for someone to hop in your car and take off when you do that.”
During the course of the investigation, CID investigators developed Johnson as a suspect. He was questioned about the thefts and charged Tuesday. Further arrests could be forthcoming, and Johnson is expected to face additional charges.
All but one of the vehicles have been recovered, but investigators have information expected to lead to the recovery of the last vehicle.
Investigators said they believe Johnson kept the vehicles for as little as four hours to a few days before he abandoned them.