SWL&P truck theft connected to Hermantown shoplifting incidentWhat started out as a shoplifting call Monday afternoon turned into a theft of a Superior Water, Light & Power utility truck followed by a chase that included up to 18 police cars in West Duluth and still saw the two alleged thieves escape custody and remain at large as of Monday night. All for what appears to be three bags of clothing.
By: Duluth News Tribune,Superior Telegram , Superior Telegram
What started out as a shoplifting call Monday afternoon turned into a theft of a Superior Water, Light & Power utility truck followed by a chase that included up to 18 police cars in West Duluth and still saw the two alleged thieves escape custody and remain at large as of Monday night.
All for what appears to be three bags of clothing.
A man and woman suspected of shoplifting at the Walmart store in Hermantown about 12:30 p.m. were spotted by a Duluth police officer at Fourth Street and Third Avenue East in Duluth, according to the Duluth Police Department.
The officer attempted to stop the gray Cadillac Seville but the driver did not stop, eventually heading down Interstate 35 and across the Blatnik Bridge into Superior, police said.
At 1 p.m., a call came in about a Superior Water, Light & Power utility truck stolen at 17th Street and Hammond Avenue in Superior. According to a Superior Police report, a Native American male walked up to the Superior Water, Light & Power employee, who was working on a house on the 1700 block of Cumming Ave., and said, “Hi, how are you?” The employee said “Hi” and went back to work. All of a sudden, his truck fired up and started leaving down the alley. It took off fast and turned onto North 17th Street, loosing stuff out the open compartment doors all the way to Hammond Avenue.
The Cadillac was found at that scene with no one in it.
The stolen truck was spotted on the Bong Bridge headed toward Duluth. The driver again refused to stop and sped into West Duluth. Police said officers had their lights on to alert other drivers as the utility truck “began traveling recklessly and at a high rate of speed.”
Police said the truck’s back door was open and several items fell during the chase. The driver hit two occupied vehicles in Superior and one occupied vehicle in West Duluth. Another parked car was also hit in West Duluth.
Officers found the truck unoccupied at 56th Avenue West and Elinor Street near Memorial Park. A perimeter was set up but no suspects were found. They were described by police as a Native American male in his 20s with a ponytail and a Native American woman. Hermantown police obtained surveillance photographs from Walmart of the male suspect.
“According to one of my workers, he was right outside the vehicle, probably about 5, 10 feet away from it. Some people walked past him, said ‘Hi,’ then the next thing you know they jumped in the vehicle and took off,” said Tim Melby, an operations manager at Superior Water Light & Power.
Jeff and Louise Ernewein were near Grand Avenue and saw the truck speed through the intersection of Grand and Central avenues. Jeff Ernewein said five police cars were following the truck but it appeared the police were monitoring it rather than chasing it, he said.
Later, the couple drove toward the Denfeld High School area on Grand and saw the van again with 18 police cars following, Jeff Ernewein said. The couple had pulled to the side of the road and counted the cars.
“He had to be going 70 to 80, easy,” Ernewein said of the speed of the truck as it passed. “He was on a mission.”
The truck has been impounded and the company will get it back in a few days, Melby said.
Hermantown and Duluth police officers took part in the chase.
Melby said he offered some help in keeping tabs on the truck.
“Our vehicles have GPS on them, and we made the police aware that if they needed it we could track it down,” Melby said.
“I did monitor it probably for the last half-hour, and it hasn’t moved, so I assume they have stopped it,” he said about 2 p.m.
Superior Police didn’t get involved in the chase, according to Sgt. John Nowicki, but they followed the trail of tools and other debris falling out of the open compartments to determine that the truck was headed to Duluth.
Walmart told police the two allegedly stole three bags of clothing from the Hermantown store.
Police said anyone with information on the suspects should call 911.