Tattoos help police identify Tennessee man wanted in 4-county crime spree

Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The arrest of one man has literally solved multiple felonies in at least four different counties, including Davidson, Sumner, Cheatham and Robertson.

Police in multiple jurisdictions say Robert Dowell was a one-man crime spree, and it was his tattoos that helped identify him.

Now, he sits in the Metro jail and is charged with several felonies, including eight counts of burglary and six counts of vandalism.

News 2 obtained surveillance pictures from crimes that reportedly show Dowell. In one photo, at a Rivergate restaurant, the 29-year-old is accused of breaking open registers and trying to get into the safe.

“He definitely has a drug problem and is trying to support that habit,” Goodlettsville police Sgt. Brian Matthews said.

Robert Dowell (Courtesy: Metro-Nashville Police Department)

News 2 was there Friday morning as Goodlettsville detectives processed a car wash that Dowell is suspected of breaking into on April 26 and again four days later.

“From what I am told, he admitted to being here,” Sgt. Matthews told News 2.

In that case, detectives said Dowell allegedly pried open the door and got inside the change box.

He is also charged with breaking into the Goodlettsville Skate Center. Police said on April 30 he went inside and used a yellow crow bar to break out the glass, causing $1,200 in damage. He allegedly stole $100 in cash and a laptop valued around $400.

“I’m happy they caught him,” Jesse Francis with Goodlettsville Skate said. “I’m just happy they caught him.”

Francis arrived to the skate center not long after last month’s break-in. He said he’s glad he didn’t come face-to-face with the offender.

He’s since seen the video that is in the possession of police.

“He had a shirt over his head and not really trying to cover his face. You could still see his face,” Francis explained.

Police said Dowell was identified, in part, thanks to a 615 tattoo and a large cross on his forearms.

“There were a lot of man hours put into this,” Sgt. Matthews explained.

News 2 has learned that when shown the surveillance footage, Dowell’s own family positively identified him as the burglar.

Courtesy: Metro-Nashville Police Department

Ashland City police now consider him their prime suspect after finding two yellow crow bars at the Food Lion. There, someone pried open the ATM over the weekend.

Police said more than $8,000 was discovered left behind.

Dowell’s crime spree came to an end after Metro police found him asleep in a stolen Nissan Altima in an East Nashville alleyway.

Police said the Altima was stolen from a Nolensville car lot. It’s there police said Dowell ditched a van and set it on fire.

“We believe he was trying to destroy any evidence of him being in that vehicle,” Matthews said.

Hendersonville police told News 2 the same stolen Nissan showed up at an automotive shop, and detectives now believe a dark figure breaking into the shop is Dowell.

He remains booked at the Davidson County jail under a $152,000 bond with a hold on him by Hendersonville authorities. Detectives have learned detectives from all over Middle Tennessee are waiting to talk to him.

At the time of his arrest, Dowell was free on a $40,000 bond for an aggravated burglary arrest last September in Goodlettsville.