The theft of a wallet Nov. 6 at Rick's Bar and Grill on Cass Avenue wasn't enough for Vernon Lamont Thomas, 37, of 372 Robinson St., apt. 2F — he also robbed the Shell Gas Station on Social Street Nov. 20 and the Park Square McDonalds Nov. 24.
At Rick's Bar and Grill Nov. 6, a bartender placed her wallet, containing about $120 in tips, in her purse near the bar and noticed it missing from the purse about 11:30 p.m. She said that Thomas had been sitting near her purse at the time, but didn't observe him remove the wallet.
Video surveillance of the bar showed Thomas reaching into the waitress's purse and removing something. The video was forwarded to Woonsocket Police detectives, and a warrant was issued for Thomas for larceny of less than $1,500.
Thomas didn't stay quiet for very long — on Nov. 20 at about 7:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to the Shell Gas Station at 450 Social St. for a robbery alarm. The clerk called out to officers when they arrived, and said the robber, a tall black man wearing all black had just run toward the intersection of Social Street and Rathbun Street. Police began searching the area.
The clerk told police said the robber had entered the store and put a box cutter to his neck, and that they started fighting. The clerk pushed the store's panic button setting off the burglar alarm. During their struggle, Thomas told the clerk "Give me the money," and the clerk opened the register and handed over about $120 in twenties and tens. The robber asked for more money, but left the store when the clerk grabbed a metal pipe. The robber ran away as police began to approach.
During their search, officers spoke to a patron at Brews and Cues on Social Street who said a man matching Thomas' description had entered the bar by the front door and exited the back door about 10 minutes before police arrived.
Thomas' girlfriend, Jeylilian Rivera, told police he had left their apartment Nov. 20, telling her that he was going to get arrested that day, but he had at least one more felony to commit first.
Police caught up to Thomas, arresting him Nov. 24 at 5:29 a.m. after responding to a report of a robbery at the Park Square McDonalds from North Smithfield police. While searching for the suspect, police spotted Thomas, wearing all black, carrying what appeared to be a cash box, at the intersection of Park Avenue and Logee Street.
After being read his rights, Thomas said he'd committed the robberies to support his drug habit. "You know me, I'll own up to all of them," he said, referring to "the other gas staions," according to the police report.
Police charged Thomas with larceny of less than $1,500 and two counts of first degree robbery.