Police pursuit catches suspects in stolen vehicle

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Technology and police teamwork combined to help officers make arrests regarding a stolen vehicle that struck two vehicles as it wheeled through Groveport.

According to the Groveport Police, at around 4 p.m. on Dec. 7, the department’s Flock License Plate Reader Camera System alerted officers to a stolen Hyundai Elantra heading south on Old Hamilton Road. Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said the stolen vehicle containing three suspects turned into the Elmont Place subdivision, but then left that area and headed down College Street and then east on Main Street.

Adams said officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver refused. The stolen vehicle struck two occupied vehicles on Main Street near the funeral home.

“The driver accelerated in reverse slamming into a car and then accelerated forward striking a van. They defied the officer’s orders to avoid apprehension,” said Adams. “Then they took off east on Main Street. Officers pursued the vehicle until it reached Rager Road when the pursuit was called off because it was felt it was too dangerous to the public to continue the pursuit.”

Police said nobody was injured in the crashes.

Following the crashes, a Groveport Police video shows the suspects driving the now damaged stolen car at a high speed and weaving around other vehicles while heading east on Main Street and then Groveport Road. Surprisingly, during the pursuit the video shows some drivers slow to pull over or not pulling over to allow the police cruiser to pass.

Minutes later, Adams said the stolen vehicle and its occupants returned to Groveport and were spotted again by security cameras, which alerted police. He said officers again pursued the vehicle, which had turned onto Delane Road. The police video shows the suspects driving the stolen car at a high speed on Crescent Drive and Seymour Avenue. The suspects drove the car through a yard and then onto Elm Street where they were eventually stopped by a dead end near the 900 block of Elm Street. They stopped the car in a yard and fled on foot.

According to Adams, three juveniles (two male and one female ages 15 to 16, all from Columbus) ran from the vehicle. After a foot chase through Groveport Park and across a small creek back into the Elm Street neighborhood, a male suspect was apprehended while hiding behind a fence. The female suspect was caught along Main Street near the Groveport Municipal Golf Course. The third suspect was taken into custody at the Groveport Recreation Center. All three were taken into custody without incident.

According to Groveport Detective Sgt. Josh Gilbert, of the three arrested, the female juvenile had five active arrest warrants, three of which were for auto theft. The female suspect had been reported missing for a year.

Adams said the various suspects were charged with fleeing and eluding, felonious assault using a vehicle as a weapon, receiving stolen property, and multiple hit skip violations. He said the suspects are being held in the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center.

When asked further about the incident, Adams said, “This type of an incident is an ongoing issue with teenagers all over. It’s a joy ride for them and they believe they can get away with it. They feel that the courts will not hold them accountable. Until the juvenile courts, as well as parents, hold people accountable and responsible, these incidents will keep happening and escalate in nature. Unfortunately it is the new norm we have to be prepared for.”

Adams praised the efforts of officers from the Groveport Police, Madison Township Police, Columbus Police, and Obetz Police in apprehending the suspects.

“It was true teamwork,” said Adams. “Officers have to make split second decisions and the departments worked well together.”

He also lauded the performance of both the Flock Camera System – which takes still photos – and the city’s Mobile Pro Solutions video security cameras.

“They helped officers receive instant notifications and locate the suspects,” said Adams.

The Mobile Pro Solutions video cameras are mounted at Main Street and Wirt Road, State Route 317 and Bixby Road, State Route 317 and Main Street, as well as on the police mobile camera trailer. These video cameras were funded by a Reduction of Violent Crimes grant.

City of Groveport officials contracted with Flock Safety to have still photo cameras installed at entry and exit points of the city at a total cost of $63,700. The cost is funded with $33,700 from the Drug Education and Enforcement fund (money generated from seized property in crimes) and $30,000 from the police budget. The solar powered cameras are used to track vehicles coming in and out of the city to aid police in the pursuit of criminal suspects.

The Flock cameras are designed to: make license plate recognition; gather evidence and facts about vehicles, not people; alert police of wanted vehicles; help solve crimes; and adhere to all state laws.

The Flock cameras: do not do facial recognition; are not tied to personally identifiable information; are not used to control traffic; and data on the cameras are stored for 30 days and then automatically deleted.

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