‘Don’t steal from kids’: Summer camp thief suspect busted after wild 13-mile police chase

A man suspected of stealing several items from a Lakebay summer camp was finally arrested Tuesday, but not before leading deputies on a wild miles-long police chase across the Key Peninsula.

A 911 call came in late Tuesday morning reporting a theft at a kids non-profit summer youth came along Russell Road SW in Lakebay, according to Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies. Camp staff found a silver utility trailer had been stolen, along with a boat motor and several lawn mowers.

About four hours later, a deputy on patrol in Lakebay spotted a pickup truck towing a silver trailer full of equipment. As the deputy turned around for a closer look, he noticed the trailer’s license plate matched that of the stolen trailer and tried to pull the truck over.

Instead, the truck sped off to about 60 mph, and a chase ensued.

The truck wound its way around several streets in the Lakebay area, eventually reaching speeds over 70 mph, deputies said. Along the way the driver tossed what appeared to be two rifles out of the cab, with one landing on the street; the other in the trailer.

One deputy attempted to deploy spike stripes as the chase hit Whiteman Road, but the truck continued and headed onto the Key Peninsula Highway. Another spike strip was deployed on the highway, but the truck just kept going into the town of Home, deputies said.

The chase eventually moved off paved streets into a series of private dirt roads as smoke poured from the engine compartment, deputies said. The driver eventually lost control and drove into a large pile of dirt – some 13 miles away from where the chase began.

But the driver wasn’t done with the chase yet — he jumped out the truck and ran off, with the deputy chasing close behind. The driver jumped a gate and eventually ran into some bushes where he was captured.

The deputy found meth, heroin and drug paraphernalia on the suspect, deputies said. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail for investigation of several offenses, including eluding police, burglary, hit and run, resisting arrest and drug violations.

The camp owner came to the scene and recovered the stolen trailer, a brush mower, boat motor, two lawn mowers and a chipper, as well as backpacks, heaters, extensions cords, and tent poles that were stolen from the camp, deputies said. The two suspected rifles that were tossed from the truck were recovered and found to be BB guns.

“Don’t steal from kids,” a spokesperson for Pierce County Sheriff’s Department tweeted in announcing the arrest.

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