San Diego

San Diego police have arrested a man they suspect of robbing more than $10,000 from 18 small businesses.

Michael Richardson, 33, was arrested Sunday afternoon in the 3900 block of West Point Loma Boulevard, police spokesman Bill Robinson said.

Police suspect that, at the time of his arrest, Richardson was "casing" a nearby bookstore. Police have linked Richardson to 18 holdups committed by a man they had nicknamed "The Count to 20 Robber," Robinson said.

In each robbery, the thief would brandish a handgun, tell clerk to empty the cash register, order the clerk to lie face down and count to 20 to allow the man to escape, Robinson said.

The first of these robberies occurred Sept. 23; the last took place Oct. 11. All of the establishments robbed were small businesses in the Midway-Point Loma area. Dry cleaners, doughnut shops and motels were among the man's preferred targets, Robinson said.

Richardson is being held in County Jail downtown in lieu of $145,000 bail on 18 counts of armed robbery and several other charges, including possession of stolen property and first-degree burglary.

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