Thursday, March 02, 2006

Woman Steals Police SUV; Chase Ensues

A woman being questioned in a stolen-vehicle case drove off in a deputy's black-and-white SUV in a Lancaster-area community Thursday and led authorities on a two-hour chase before being arrested.

The woman, believed to be in her 20s, is expected to face charges of grand theft and evading arrest, said sheriff's Sgt. Paul Patterson of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.

The SUV was stolen about 9:20 a.m. in Littlerock when the deputy left the engine running, he said.

Patterson said a decision by a deputy on whether to turn off the engine of a patrol vehicle "depends on the circumstances."

After the woman drove off, authorities followed her on the ground and via a helicopter, speaking with her on the patrol vehicle's radio, Patterson said. The woman drove in a circuitous route on surface streets in Lancaster.

About an hour into the chase, deputies deployed a spike strip that shredded the left rear tire of the four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Deputy Oscar Butao said that the woman was unstable and crying. She was screaming into the vehicle's communications radio and had asked to contact her boyfriend and mother, he said.

Investigators were able to talk to the woman and calm her down, Patterson said.

About 11:15 a.m., the woman drove slowly around a corner in a residential area and stopped. Suddenly, law enforcement officers with guns drawn surrounded the SUV and pulled her out. The arrest occurred near 13th Street West and Ivesbrook Street, Patterson said.

The chase was covered live on several television stations via helicopter crews. No injuries were reported, Patterson said.

The woman's name was not immediately released.



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