A California man’s plan to rob an Apple store of thousands of dollars worth of electronics backfired when he had to ditch his getaway car and then returned hours later with the keys to the car in his pocket.
Equonne Howard, 22, of Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday to charges of attempted burglary and parole violation for what is being called a “drive through” heist at an Apple store at the Promenade Mall in Temecula, Calif., last week.
Surveillance video from inside the store shows a blue BMW SUV smashing through the all-glass front of the Apple store around 5 a.m. Thursday. Three men, wearing gloves, dark clothing and hoodies, then emerge from the car and begin to grab items off display shelves as fast as they can. As they attempted to get away, the SUV became blocked by a security gate that had lowered behind them, according to police.
After banging into the gate enough times to tear it apart, the SUV drove off but with enough damage, including two flat tires, that the suspects eventually ditched the car and fled on foot. Police later recovered the SUV in a nearby parking lot, without its license plate, which had been left at the scene, police said.
Nearly four hours later, around 9 a.m., a police officer spotted Howard walking near the Apple store and stopped him. After linking him to ownership of the suspect SUV, the officer detained Howard, who had the keys to the car in his pocket, and later arrested him.
The investigation is ongoing to find the three remaining suspects. Police did not release information on the amount of inventory stolen from the Apple store. Employees there, none of whom were present at the time of the robbery, continue to clean the store and review the inventory to see what was taken.
Howard, out on parole for previous convictions of second-degree burglary and robbery, was charged with five felony counts. He remains in a Riverside County jail on $600,000 bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 18.
If convicted on all charges, Howard faces nine years and eight months in prison, according to a spokesperson for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.