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Google search leads to armed robbery suspect

Man charged with robbing 7-Eleven 20 months ago
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 10:14:19-04

ELDERSBURG, Md. — As robberies go, what happened at the 7-Eleven in Eldersburg back in 2017 appeared to be textbook.

A masked man approached the clerk, implied he had a gun, demanded cash and disappeared in a matter of seconds.

At the time, Vestillia Reid had just taken a receptionist job at a dentist's office.

"The crime level has gone up and up and up, and it's sad. It's really sad, if you can't even go into a convenience store," said Reid.

According to charging documents, 28-year-old Joshua Johnson almost immediately surfaced as a potential suspect.

A coat, matching the description of the one worn by the robber, turned up in a dumpster across the street.

Johnson's girlfriend at the time identified it as his coat, and Johnson, himself, was stopped by police near the scene wearing only shorts and a sleeveless shirt on a frigid night in October.

Johnson was carrying a back pack and refused to let detectives search it.

A K-9 also tracked the robber's scent to an nearby street where Johnson had been living with his girlfriend.

"Obviously, there are things that pointed to this individual as a suspect, but just because you have a hunch and you have suspicions doesn't mean you can just make an arrest,” said Ron Snyder of the Maryland State Police. “You have to put a case together.”

And that case came together when detectives obtained Johnson's email address from his probation officer and found a Google search from the day of the crime when he allegedly entered the words "how easy is it to rob a convenience store."

"That was crazy,” said Reid. “How are you going to go to Google and learn how to commit a crime?"

While the crash course allegedly helped Johnson commit the crime, it also left behind evidence that has led to his arrest.

Easy to rob a convenience store?


But, in hindsight, he probably wishes he had added the words... "and get away with it."

"Don't put your business online for one thing, and don't try to rob a convenience store online, because you will get caught eventually," added Reid.