Anchorage police say they pursued a suspected vehicle thief through South Anchorage Wednesday night before tracking him to an unoccupied home. But once they had him against a wall, he tried to go through it.
Gordon Adam Thomas, 29, was arrested early Thursday on nearly a dozen charges including vehicle theft, assault, burglary and failing to stop at the direction of a police officer, according to a statement from Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Renee Oistad.
A female passenger from the stolen truck was still at large.
The stolen truck, a 1-ton Chevrolet belonging to Susitna Services, had been parked and locked in a lot near Raspberry Road, east of Dowling Boulevard. It was last seen at 8 p.m. Tuesday; an employee of Susitna Services reported the vehicle stolen to police at 11 a.m. the next morning.
Oistad said in an email that neither Thomas nor his passenger had any apparent connection with the company.
"The theft of the truck was a crime of opportunity," Oistad wrote.
Just after 10:20 p.m. Wednesday, police got another call from a Susitna Services employee who was tailing the stolen truck near Jewel Lake and Raspberry roads. Officers were able to catch up with the truck near 100th Avenue and the Old Seward Highway, where they tried to box it in with their vehicles.
"The Chevy rammed one of the police cars, drove up onto the curb, over a sidewalk, and down Old Seward Highway," Oistad wrote. "When the Chevy was on the sidewalk, it clipped the mirror of a semi truck who had pulled over to yield to arriving police vehicles."
Nobody was injured, and police called off the pursuit. Other drivers soon called police dispatch to report sightings of the truck running red lights.
By 10:40 p.m., police located the Chevy abandoned near Klatt Road and Gambell Street, Oistad said, where "footprints in the snow showed that two people ran from the vehicle in different directions."
"The driver was tracked to a residence on the 12000 block of Seashore Place," Oistad wrote. "The home was unoccupied as the owner was in the process of moving out. Officers could see that the front door had been kicked in and there was a man inside."
Police spoke to the man, who they said gave a false name. The homeowner, who arrived at the scene, identified the man as Thomas. The homeowner told police Thomas was an acquaintance, but he hadn't been to the house in the past two years, and didn't have permission to be there Wednesday.
Officers then told Thomas to come out, but he didn't comply, Oistad wrote.
"Thomas attempted to bore through the garage wall into the attached unit," Oistad wrote. "When that didn't work, Thomas crawled up into the attic and over to the next-door house."
Oistad said that Thomas used "some sort of tool" in his attempt to cut through the wall, but didn't get very far.
"He gave up," Oistad wrote.
The residents of the adjacent townhouse were evacuated from the building and gave police permission to go in.
"Thomas was in the process of dropping down into the second home through the ceiling when he realized police were inside," Oistad wrote. "He crawled through the attic and back down into the first residence."
Police entered that home and arrested Thomas shortly before 12:30 a.m. Thursday. He was held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on two counts each of burglary and criminal mischief, plus one count each of theft, vehicle theft, assault, failing to stop at the direction of an officer, providing false information and resisting arrest.
Oistad said police haven't identified the woman who was traveling with Thomas in the truck. She was tracked to a home on the 1100 block of East Klatt Road.
"They discovered the suspect had knocked on the door of the home and asked the owner to give her a ride to Wal-mart on Dimond (Boulevard)," Oistad wrote. "The homeowner was cooperative with officers and was unaware the woman he gave a ride to was evading capture."
Anyone with information on the woman or her whereabouts can provide it to police by phone at 907-786-8900. Tips can also be reported to Anchorage Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or through its website.