Shoplifting getaway ends with van crash

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Two Detroit women were arrested by Allen Park and Dearborn police early Wednesday during an ill-fated getaway from a failed shoplifting attempt.

Just before 3 a.m., an Allen Park officer noticed a white 2002 Chrysler Town & Country driven by a 45-year-old woman parked in front of a closed set of retail doors at Meijer, 3565 Fairlane Drive. Inside the store, a 41-year-old woman then forced a shopping cart through the doors, approaching the minivan and driver.

Upon seeing the fully marked police car and officer, the shopper abandoned the cart and jumped into the passenger side of the van. The officer exited his car and yelled for them to stop.

As they disregarded the officer and started to leave, the officer drew his weapon and pointed it at the driver, who then stopped.

The officer opened the driver’s door and ordered both women out. The driver, however, stayed in her seat. The passenger then jumped from her seat onto the driver’s lap and tried to put the vehicle back into drive while the officer tried to stop her.

However, the van started to move forward, so he let go of her arm and called for backup.

The officer pursued the van in his car with his overhead lights and siren engaged. The pursuit went north through the parking lot, behind Home Depot, 3163 Fairlane Drive, then back south toward Best Buy, 3349 Fairlane. The van then went between Best Buy and Meijer and exited the parking lot to go south on Fairlane.

The van then went west on Outer Drive in an attempt to get to the Southfield Freeway. However, the women were forced to stop when they got stuck between the overpass wall and a police vehicle.

The original driver then exited the vehicle and surrendered. However, the other woman got behind the wheel and struck the patrol car in a successful attempt to free the van.

She then headed north on the Southfield service drive, then north on the Southfield Freeway.

Just as officers slowed pursuit on northbound Southfield Freeway at Michigan Avenue, other officers reported that the fleeing van had crashed on the freeway at Ford Road.

The original officer and a colleague then headed to the crash site, where they could not tell if anyone was in the locked, unlit vehicle. An officer broke a window to unlock it.

The remaining woman was on the front floorboard, complaining of back pain. Despite officers’ advice to stay still, she chose to move about the vehicle with an unlit cigarette in her mouth, asking them for a lighter. She ignored their advice to stay still and declined to leave the vehicle.

Dearborn fire and rescue arrived on scene, treated the woman and took her to Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn. She was admitted with a broken pelvis and ribs. Two crack pipes were found in her possession.

The van was impounded. Police tried unsuccessfully to contact its registered owner, a Lincoln Park man.

The original driver was charged with retail fraud, fleeing and eluding and driving without a license; the second driver was charged with retail fraud, fleeing and eluding and possession of drug paraphernalia.