Suspect in Providence robbery spree now charged in Cranston

Surveillance photo of Cranston robbery and suspect Willie Rathbone (Photos: RI Most Wanted)

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence man suspected of committing nine armed robberies in the capital city is now facing the same charge out of Cranston.

Willie Rathbone, 35, is accused of holding up LaFrontera Convenience Store on Broad Street on the afternoon of Aug. 8, according to Cranston police.

Employees told police the suspect brandished a black, semiautomatic handgun and demanded money and cigarettes.

Police allege Rathbone robbed the Walgreens on North Main Street in Providence later that same day. Fingerprints left at that crime scene were what led investigators to Rathbone, police said. They tracked him to an apartment on Elmwood Avenue and took him into custody the following day.

Willie Rathbone in court

In addition to the LaFrontera and Walgreens robberies, police said Rathbone is suspected in three additional armed robberies in Providence and formally charged in five more:

  • July 30: Shop and Go convenience store on Union Avenue
  • August 4: Tito Mini Market on Potters Avenue
  • August 6: Stop Market on Cranston Street
  • August 7: Shell gas station on Wickenden Street
  • August 8: Explosion Market on Dexter Street

Police said Rathbone is a Level 2 sex offender with a lengthy criminal history.

He’s currently being held at the ACI as he awaits trial on the robbery charges.