ANCHORAGE, Alaska Rob Voelker watched Monday afternoon as his stolen pick-up truck zoomed away from police and across a snowy parking lot in south Anchorage.
Voelker thought he would never see his pick-up again, but then he got a call Thursday morning from police. His truck had been found in Spenard, stripped and heavily damaged, inside and out.
"They had a bunch of stolen property in my truck, drugs and things like that" Voelker said Thursday evening. "so, not the smartest guys, but unfortunately they got me."
Voelker said this was the first time he's had a vehicle stolen from him, and he says the experience has left him feeling anxious. "It just creates concerns, for your family and for your personal property" Voelker said. "I mean, you spend your hard earned dollars on something, you don't want to just come out and find it's gone, damaged or find someone is in it doing drugs or putting your life at risk, you know?"
Rob Voelker is not alone. A check Thursday of a community crime map website, that uses data from the Municipality of Anchorage, showed that since January 1st of this year, 820 vehicles have been reported stolen in the muni.
Voelker says the wave of vehicle thefts has made him consider moving his family. "I talk about this all the time with family and friends. It makes a noticeable difference on how we plan our future, if we want to stay in Anchorage or move to a safer community, a community that feels safer" Voelker said.
As for the the thieves who stole his truck, Voelker said "I'm a big believer in karma, I'm sure it will come back around. They're not making smart decisions, so it's bound to catch up with them."
When Voelker's truck was spotted Monday afternoon by a friend, several police cars tried to box it in, but the driver backed up and rammed two of the APD cruisers, then ran through a snow berm to escape.
Police decided it was not safe to pursue the stolen vehicle.
"We ceased our activities, we didn't want to chase him with all of the people in the parking lot" said Sgt. Shaun Henry.
The Anchorage Police Department policy on pursuits states: "There is no set formula to cover all pursuit situations because of the variables and complexities involved. Decisions about pursuits must be based on sound judgment, the law, training, experience and this policy.
It is the policy of the Anchorage Police Department that officers
must discontinue their involvement in motor vehicle pursuits at any time the pursuit itself becomes a greater threat to life or property than the threat which the officer reasonably believes the suspect poses."
As for the situation Monday afternoon, Sgt Henry said "I understand it's a high-value item to the owner, I get that, but at the end of the day it's a piece of property, and it's 4:00 o'clock (p.m.) out here, a busy parking lot, lots of people around, it's just not worth it. There isn't property out there that's worth that."
Even though his truck was found heavily damaged, and will probably be totaled, Rob Voelker still supports the decision by officers to not chase the vehicle thief.