Connecticut man arrested after driving stolen car to meeting with cops

By Richard Weizel

NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Connecticut man was in police custody on Tuesday after showing up to a phony probation meeting driving a car that police say he stole from a woman in a supermarket parking lot and later may have used to rob a bank.

Gary Harding was arrested on Monday when he showed up at a state office in New Haven for what he thought was to be a meeting with his probation officer.

"Thank God people aren't always very bright, it really does make our job a lot easier," said New Haven Police spokesman David Hartman. "Not only to make the apprehension, but then to also have the main piece of evidence delivered right to us ... that was icing on the cake."

That main piece of evidence was an SUV stolen from a Stamford woman at a grocery store on Sept. 13 by a man who claimed to have a gun. A review of surveillance footage suggested to police that Harding, who was known to probation officials for past drug and robbery convictions, was the culprit.

Police in the nearby town of Wallingford are also investigating whether the vehicle was used by Harding two days later in a bank robbery, said Wallingford Police Detective Sean Houlihan.

The video evidence prompted police to set up the phony probation meeting with Harding.

Harding, who was being held on charges of first-degree robbery and robbery by carjacking, could not be reached for comment. It was unclear if he had hired an attorney.

(Reporting by Richard Weizel; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech)