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Hampstead man robbed Eldersburg store after Googling robbery advice, police say

Hampstead man robbed Eldersburg store after Googling robbery advice, police say
Joshua Matthew Johnson (Courtesy Photo)

Joshua Matthew Johnson of Hampstead was charged with the 2017 armed robbery of Eldersburg 7-Eleven. He allegedly Googled "how easy is it to rob a convenience store” the same day, police say.

Johnson, 28, was charged with six counts including armed robbery and use of a firearm in a felony. He was released on $2,000 bail after a Thursday bail review, according to electronic court records.

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According to the statement of charges, Maryland State Police responded to a 7-Eleven on Liberty Road in Eldersburg after a reported robbery on Oct. 17, 2017.

An employee of the store said she was the only person in the store when a man came in wearing a bandanna over his face. When she told him he could not wear it in the store, he demanded money from the register and told her he had a gun and was not afraid to use it, she told police.

The employee gave him money. He told her to put it in a bag, but she said she did not have a bag, so she handed the money to him, the charging documents show. He then left, running across the street. She said he was wearing a heavy coat and sweatshirt. After he left, she called police.

While talking to individuals in the area, troopers made note of Johnson because he was wearing shorts and a tank top despite cool temperatures. Troopers spoke to him, and at that time, he denied a request for them to look at the contents of his backpack, according to police. He was released.

A trooper reviewed surveillance video of the robbery and observed the individual confront the clerk, while keeping one hand in his pocket. The amount stolen was approximately $250, police say. The suspect in the footage was wearing a heavy jacket, sweatshirt and beanie. That same date, troopers found a heavy jacket in a dumpster across the street from the convenience store, according to the statement of charges.

The jacket was submitted for DNA analysis, but was found not suitable to produce results, the charging documents show.

An MSP K-9 was brought to the scene to scan the area where the jacket was found. The K-9 tracked through Locust Lane and Oak Hill Drive, where troopers saw Johnson outside of a residence, according to the statement of charges.

A trooper reviewing the case found the interactions with Johnson on the night of the robbery to be suspicious. The trooper spoke to an individual who identified the fjacket as Johnson’s and identified him as the suspect captured on the video footage of the robbery, police say. The trooper also spoke to Johnson’s probation officer in Pennsylvania, who said Johnson had lived on Oak Hill Drive at the time.

The trooper interviewed Johnson on Oct. 24, 2018, at which time Johnson said he did not have any information about the robbery nor know anyone who did. Johnson said he had been meeting a friend at a restaurant that night before going home, according to police.

A subpeona for data related to Johnson’s email near the date and time of the robbery was returned on April 2, 2019. Included was the Google search history, which included a search for “how easy is it to rob a convenience store” and a website that claimed to offer answers for how to do so, according to the statement of charges.

In a subsequent interview with police, Johnson said that the email was his, but he said he did not make the Internet search.

Johnson could not be reached by the phone number listed in court records as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday. No attorney was listed for Johnson. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 26.

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