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[whitespace] Car wash was 'robbed' by employee's friend

Willow Glen--The film footage at Classic Car Wash on Almaden Expressway showed a terrified new employee held up by a gun-wielding robber on Saturday, March 27. But after a brief San Jose Police Department investigation, the employee and robber, who were friends and classmates at Willow Glen High School, admitted to staging the fake robbery and splitting the cash between them.

Both young men, and a third accomplice who drove the getaway car, are now awaiting court hearings at Santa Clara's juvenile hall.

"These were not high-level criminal here," Rob Miller, chief financial officer of Classic Car Wash says. "We had a new employee who tried to make his theft look like a robbery ... and obviously made a very silly decision."

The new employee at the Robertsville Corners' car wash, at 5005 Almaden Expressway, was counting cash in the safe late on Saturday night when his friend barged in disguised as a robber. He made off with $4,000 in cash.

According to Miller, that much money normally isn't available at any of the store's four locations. Because the robbery was an inside job, the young man manipulated store policies to make sure the maximum amount of cash would be on hand.

"The whole thing was pretty amateurish," Miller says. "We pretty much knew what had happened right away. The police did a great job of solving the case quickly. And both families were very cooperative."

The car wash has already changed its safe procedures, including more frequent bank deposits, to ensure that in the future thousands of dollars won't be available at any time.

"It was one of our busiest days of the year," Miller says. "But we're obviously doing things a lot differently now."

Just a few days into the police investigation, the young men confessed to the crime. The three are still in custody at juvenile hall. Two are awaiting fitness hearings, which will determine whether they will be charged as adults.

Miller adds, "These kids' fathers weren't too happy with them, either."
Mary Spicuzza

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Web extra to the April 15-21, 1999 issue of Metro.

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