Suspected car thief arrested after multi-day high-speed chases through Smithfield

Published 12:35 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

A series of high-speed chases through Isle of Wight County that spanned 15 miles from Rushmere to the county line at Suffolk ended this morning with the capture of a suspected car thief.

Police have yet to release the suspect’s name or details on what precipitated three separate but allegedly connected pursuits that began March 14.

According to Deputy Alecia Paul, spokeswoman for the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, the Smithfield Police Department initiated the March 14 pursuit. Paul deferred to the SPD for details on what precipitated the chase, what route the suspect took and how fast he was driving, but confirmed the chase ended after the vehicle became disabled and a male passenger fled on foot.

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The Sheriff’s Office assisted the SPD with a K9 search for the fleeing passenger, Paul said. She also confirmed that the suspect vehicle had struck another car occupied by a woman and three children during the chase, which resulted in one of the children sustaining minor injuries.

The mayhem resumed this morning when the Sheriff’s Office received a call about a man sleeping in the back of someone’s vehicle at a home in Rushmere who, before deputies could arrive, allegedly stole a nearby car that was unoccupied but left running.

Smithfield police took over the chase once the vehicle fled southeast and crossed into the town limits and continued to follow it to the Suffolk line. Paul said her agency again took over when the vehicle reentered the county from Suffolk.

“The vehicle actively attempted to elude our deputies,” Paul said. “They pursued the vehicle to the Hardees in Smithfield, when the driver exited the stolen vehicle and attempted to carjack an elderly woman in the drive-thru. That attempt failed and our deputies chased him on foot and apprehended him in the parking lot.”

A video of the chase published to a Smithfield community Facebook group at approximately 9 a.m. shows officers shouting, “Show me your hands!” at the driver.

Paul said the driver was identified as the same male passenger who’d fled on foot from the March 14 chase. The suspect is now in custody at the Sheriff’s Office pending charges, Paul said.

This is a developing story.