CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — With the help of the city’s automated license plate recognition cameras, police in Cranston were able to apprehend a man wanted in connection with two bank robberies Friday afternoon.
Edward Diamante, 34, of Woonsocket, is accused of robbing the Citizens Bank on Oaklawn Avenue Thursday and the Santander Bank on Atwood Avenue Friday morning.
Cranston Police Col. Michael Winquist said as officers were searching for the suspect following the second robbery, a resident who lives nearby provided them with doorbell footage of the suspect’s vehicle.
After running the vehicle’s license plate and reviewing surveillance footage from both banks, Winquist said officers identified Diamante as the suspect.
Winquist said Diamante’s license plate was entered into the city’s automated license identification system, and within a few hours, one of the cameras notified officers that his vehicle had been spotted.
After receiving the notification, Winquist said a detective working a road construction detail saw Diamante’s vehicle and attempted to pull him over.
Diamante instead took off and led officers on a high-speed chase through Providence and Johnston, according to Winquist.
Winquist said the pursuit ended when Diamante hit a speed bump on Reservoir Road and lost control of his vehicle, ultimately crashing into someone’s front yard.
Diamante attempted to run off after crashing his car, Winquist said, but was caught and taken into custody.
Upon searching his vehicle, officers found a backpack and duffel bag containing evidence from both bank robberies, including the stolen cash, Winquist said.
Winquist said Diamante’s swift apprehension demonstrates the value of the automated license plate readers, which were installed as part of a 60-day trial with Flock Safety.
He said without the camera system, “the suspect may have continued on a crime spree.”
The automated license reader system has been a point of contention between the three cities testing the cameras and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU claims the license plate readers are intrusive and an invasion of privacy for innocent motorists.
Diamante is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of reckless driving. Winquist said Diamante also had an active warrant out for his arrest on a domestic assault strangulation charge.