UPDATE: stolen truck owner comments on APD not chasing thief

Published: Mar. 12, 2018 at 8:12 PM AKDT
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Update: The owner of a stolen pick-up truck, that fled by ramming through a snow berm and then sped off across a slick, south Anchorage parking lot Monday afternoon, gave his opinion Tuesday about the decision by police not to chase the vehicle thief.

"I was kind of shocked" said Rob Voelker of the incident. "I thought the cops might do some kind of different pit maneuver there, I mean even though, you can always question them after the fact, but it just kind of sucks they got away."

However, Voelker said he supports the decision by officers to not chase the person who was driving his stolen truck.

"I'm kind of glad they didn't chase him through that parking lot" Voelker said. "It was super busy. I know if I was with my wife and kid and we were in a car and some cops were chasing someone and they hit us, or something happened to my family, it's not worth it."

Voelker said a friend spotted his stolen truck at a fast-food drive thru Monday afternoon, and called him. Voelker and his friend were in the parking lot watching as police tried to surround the stolen truck and catch the thief.

Anchorage Police said several police units tried to box-in the truck. Voelker said the driver put the vehicle in reverse, rammed two police cars and pushed them back, then drove forward through the snow berm to escape.

Original story:

An attempt to capture the driver of a stolen pick-up truck turned into a wild scene for a few hectic moments in a south Anchorage parking lot late Monday afternoon.

Anchorage police got a tip that a stolen truck was parked at the McDonald's restaurant in the 8900 block of Old Seward Highway.

Several police cruisers converged to try to box-in the stolen vehicle.

It didn't turn out the way police had hoped.

"I think we had of four, maybe five police cars trying to block it in, but the person that was in it wasn't having any of that" said Sgt. Shaun Henry, the commanding officer at the scene. "He put it in reverse and rammed the police cars behind him, and then was able to get enough room to get some traction and drive forward over the snow bank and out of the parking lot and took off."

The escape left plow marks in the snow berm at the McDonald's, and skid marks in the snowy and slick parking lot the truck sped off into.

In accordance with APD's policy in such situations, officers did not chase the fleeing stolen vehicle.

"We ceased our activities, we didn't want to chase him with all of the people in the parking lot" said Sgt Henry.

The Anchorage Police Department policy on pursuits states:

"There is no set formula to cover all pursuit situations because of the variables and complexities involved. Decisions about pursuits must be based on sound judgment, the law, training, experience and this policy.

It is the policy of the Anchorage Police Department that officers

must discontinue their involvement in motor vehicle pursuits at any time the pursuit itself becomes a greater threat to life or property than the threat which the officer reasonably believes the suspect poses."

As for the situation Monday afternoon, Sgt Henry said " I understand it's a high-value item to the owner, I get that, but at the end of the day it's a piece of property, and it's 4:00 o'clock (p.m.) out here, a busy parking lot, lots of people around, it's just not worth it. There isn't property out there that's worth that."

Henry added "we'll find him another day, hopefully."

There were no injuries in Monday's incident, and there was only minor damage to the front bumper of one of the police cars involved.