License plate reader helps deputies recover stolen car, Sheriff's Office says

Fugitive arrested after police pursuit in Flagler County, deputies say


BUNNELL, Fla. – A dangerous police pursuit sparked by a license plate reader spotting a stolen car in Flagler County ended with the arrest of a fugitive Thursday, the Sheriff's Office said.

A plate reader alerted deputies Thursday that a car reported stolen out of Rockledge was in Flagler County.

The deputies found the car headed north on U.S. 1, but the driver sped away from an attempted traffic stop, deputies said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, a deputy witnessed the car top 115 mph in the city of Bunnell and nearly cause multiple crashes by weaving in and out of traffic.

Deputies said the car narrowly missed a collision with a Flagler County motorcycle deputy at the intersection of North Bacher Street and East Moody Boulevard.

Because of the dangers to the public, deputies stopped chasing the stolen vehicle, but deputies and officers from the Bunnell Police Department tracked the diver to Marion Street in Bunnell, deputies said.

Deputies said a woman came out of a home and told deputies her son was the one running from them and he would be coming outside to turn himself in.

Josiah Merriweather, 19, was arrested and charged with fleeing law enforcement and grand theft auto.

Deputies also found an active warrant on a burglary charge for Merriweather, who has a previous arrest history of burglary, gun theft and violation of probation.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly praised the plate reader technology, which came to the Sheriff's Office last year. The readers alert the dispatch center and deputies in the field when a wanted plate is read and pinpoint a geo-location.

The data can be shared to other local, state and federal law enforcement partners who are using the LPR technology, including other Northeast Florida agencies.

“This technology revolutionizes crime fighting and is already making a difference in Flagler County by aiding in multiple arrests and recovery of a missing and endangered adult,” Staly said. “Not only does this help solve crimes, recover stolen property and help us locate fugitives, but it will also aid in the recovery of individuals in the event of an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert. When lives are on the line, every second counts. We’re glad to have another tool to advance our proactive and real-time crime-fighting techniques.”

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