It's the kind of botched crime that ends up as irresistible material for late-night talk-show hosts.
A man carjacks a woman at knifepoint at The Mall in Columbia in the middle of the post-Christmas shopping frenzy. He goes directly to a Sam's Mart and a liquor store at the Oakland Mills Village Center, and purchases items with the victim's credit card.
After tracing the purchases the next morning, Howard County Sgts. Paul Fiscella and Steve Lampe go to the stores to review surveillance tapes of the suspect's purchases. As the officers drive out of the village center parking lot in separate cars at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Fiscella spots the suspect walking across the parking lot.
"Paul has his hand up in his car window waving at me to get my attention," Lampe said. "We turned around and confronted the guy together. And when we got up to him, it certainly was the same person in the video."
Rudy Alfredo Carpio-Vasquez, 31, of the 5900 block of Setter Drive in Elkridge was charged late Thursday with carjacking, robbery and false imprisonment, among other crimes.
Police allege that Carpio-Vasquez approached a 21-year-old woman in her parked 2006 Honda Accord about 7 p.m. near the entrance to the food court on the south side of the facility.
At knifepoint, police said, he ordered the woman out of the vehicle, but when she opened the door, he pushed her into the passenger seat. As the suspect backed out of the parking spot, the woman jumped out of the Accord and ran for help.
Lampe said investigators believe that Carpio-Vasquez walked directly from the mall to the Oakland Mills shopping center.
At the time of his arrest, Carpio-Vasquez had a steak knife concealed in his shoe, a debit card bearing the victim's name and a receipt for the liquor store purchase, according to court records.