Spike mats put brakes on alleged car theft spree

By Tanya Mitchell | Aug 15, 2012
Source: File image

Waldo County — Police said it took a brief chase and a set of spike mats to stop an Old Town woman who allegedly stole two vehicles in two different counties during the early morning hours of Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Following a series of events that reportedly began at her relatives' house in Orono early Tuesday morning, 33-year-old Rebecca Sawyer of Old Town faces a charge of failure to stop for an officer from the Waldo County Sheriff's Office and a theft of a motor vehicle charge from the Searsport Police Department. Waldo County Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton said Sawyer likely faces an additional car theft charge from the Maine State Police.

Trafton said Sawyer initially caught the attention of the Maine State Police after she allegedly stole a vehicle from relatives who live in Orono. From there, Sawyer drove to Verona Island and crashed the vehicle.

Sawyer then exited the vehicle and obtained a ride with a truck driver, whom Trafton said transported Sawyer to Searsport.

Once Sawyer arrived in Searsport, Trafton said she allegedly stole a second car. That vehicle theft was reported to the Searsport Police Department, Trafton said, and that agency put out a bulletin to neighboring law enforcement that included a description of the vehicle.

It wasn't long before Deputy Darren Moody spotted the vehicle as it was traveling along Route 1, Trafton said.

"At that point Deputy Moody knew the vehicle he was chasing was the vehicle that was reported stolen in Searsport," said Trafton.

Trafton said Moody continued to chase the vehicle until the driver, who was later identified as Sawyer, drove onto Verona Island and headed toward Bucksport.

But Trafton said Bucksport officers had been alerted to the situation and were prepared for Sawyer's arrival.

"The Bucksport officers put down spike mats and flattened two of the tires," said Trafton. "That must have been enough to convince her to stop, because she traveled a short distance away and then she pulled over."

The brief chase that Moody was engaged in with Sawyer never exceeded 75 mph, Trafton said, and lasted less than 15 minutes.

Trafton said police took Sawyer into custody at about 8:20 a.m. and transported her to the Waldo County Jail.

The effort to apprehend Sawyer was an example of how well local law enforcement agencies can work together in situations that involve more than one jurisdiction, Trafton said, and praised Moody for his role in the incident.

Sawyer is scheduled to appear at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast Tuesday, Oct. 2.


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