Truck thief rams business to steal goods

Police are looking for the person who stole a pickup truck from a vehicle dealership and used that truck to break into another business early Sunday.

Springfield police were dispatched to the 400 block of South Burnett Road at about 4:16 a.m. on a report of breaking and entering. They were advised by dispatch that a black pickup truck had backed up into the rear doors of Showplace, a rental business at 526 S. Burnett Road, and a suspect went in and took a flat screen TV and air conditioner, according to police.

Officers on their way to Showplace were told that the truck had left the scene and was headed south on Burnett. An officer spotted the truck in the area of Elder and Kenton streets and pursued it. The truck hit a power line pole and crashed in the 700 block of Catherine Street and ended up on the front lawn at 705 Catherine St. The suspect ran from the wreckage and eluded arrest, police said.

During the police investigation of the truck, it was learned that the vehicle had been stolen from Ralph’s Auto Sales, 1936 Lagonda Ave., on July 31. Police went to the dealership and found that a chain to a gate had been broken and a hole had been cut in the fence to the business, but officers could not determine whether the damage to the fence was old or new.

The method behind this most recent truck theft-breaking and entering has become a common one in Springfield, police said. A week ago, a stolen truck became stuck on pole as the driver tried to ram open the doors of a Best Buy store. In those earlier incidents, trucks were ditched on Kenton Street and the keys left at the scene.

Ralph Marinacci, owner of Ralph’s Auto Sales, told News Center 7’s Jessiaca Heffner he knows who had the keys. He said he’ll be putting thicker chains around the gates of the fences surrounding his vehicle lots to keep thieves out.

“I was thinking I’m going to get around six German Shepherds and keep them out on the lot,” Marinacci said.

Police in Springfield are investigating a sting of break-ins at local businesses all involving someone backing their vehicle into store-front windows to gain entry.

On May 30, the Aaron’s store at 2425 E. Main St. and the Cash & Carry Food Mart at 1910 Mitchell Blvd. were broken into overnight. Aaron’s was robbed in a similar manner a week before.

Cash & Carry Food Mart owner Nick Patel said surveillance footage showed someone backed their vehicle into the business, breaking the front windows and doors. He said it looked like the suspect attempted to steal the ATM machine.

A witness told police she observed a large green truck back into the business and saw a male wearing a ball cap leave the store and get in the truck.

Springfield Detective Perry Roeser told News Center 7 that police believe the May 30 incident is connected to four recent break-ins and they are working with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to find the suspect.

The string of crimes began May 9 when Gunsmoke Firearms, 3674 E. National Road, was robbed by a masked man. Police have surveillance video from that incident.

The week of May 1, the Aaron’s on East Main was robbed for the first time, along with the Butts & Barrels store on West First Street and the Rim Man Customs shop on Mitchell Boulevard.

An officer checking the area during response to the Cash & Carry investigation found that the National Trail Parks and Recreation District maintenance parking area, on Mitchell Boulevard, had also been broken into. A truck and keys were taken.

In the Aaron’s break-in, the suspect drove the stolen the parks district truck into the garage door at Aaron’s, went inside and took a 73-inch TV still in its box.

In all six incidents, police have said the suspect abandoned the stolen vehicles after the robberies.