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UPDATED: Suspect Steals ACPD Cruiser on I-66

by ARLnow.com April 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm 8,169 78 Comments

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) An Arlington County Police cruiser was stolen during a stop on I-66 today, leading to a police chase.

The incident started around noon when an officer in a marked ACPD cruiser stopped to assist Virginia State Police who had stopped a pedestrian on I-66 in Prince William County. A struggle ensued, the suspect struck the Arlington officer in the face and then hopped into the officer’s cruiser and sped off

Virginia State Police, Prince William County and Fairfax County police pursued the stolen cruiser, until the chase ended on I-66 at Cub Run, near the Prince William County/Fairfax County border.

The Arlington County officer whose cruiser was stolen received medical treatment for non-life threatening injuries..

From the Virginia State Police press release on the incident:

At 11:58 a.m., Virginia State Police Trooper C.T. Grzelak responded to a male pedestrian on Interstate 66 in the eastbound lanes at the 46 mile marker in Prince William County. As the trooper stopped out with the man, an Arlington County Police Officer pulled up to assist. Upon being approached by law enforcement, the male subject became combative and began banging on the trooper’s patrol car. As the trooper and officer tried to take the subject into custody, the pedestrian struck the Arlington officer in the face and then fled the scene in the officer’s patrol car.

The trooper then pursued the fleeing suspect. The pursuit continued off I-66 and onto Route 29 before returning to I-66 headed westbound. At the 47 mile marker in Fairfax County, State Police and Prince William County Police were able to encircle and contain the suspect vehicle and force it onto the shoulder where it finally came to a stop.

The suspect then ran from the stolen vehicle and jumped into the bed of a pickup truck that was stopped in the westbound lanes of I-66 (westbound traffic had stopped as the pursuit was brought to a conclusion). The male subject grabbed a shovel and started swinging it at the troopers as they approached him. He finally complied with the troopers’ verbal commands to drop the shovel, but then jumped out of the back of the pickup truck and climbed over the cement Jersey wall.

In the left shoulder of the eastbound lanes of I-66, the male subject still refused to be taken into custody and fought the trooper and sergeant during the course of the apprehension. Both the trooper and sergeant suffered minor injuries.

The male suspect was transported by Prince William County Police to the Prince William County Adult Detention Center. Charges are pending at this time.

The Arlington County Police Officer was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

  • BC

    This seems like an exceptionally good idea.

    • DW


  • SouthPikeGuy

    I wish Deputy Travis Junior a speedy recovery.

    • Good Grief

      me too!

  • jslanger

    Dumb question, but why would the officer leave his keys in the ignition (I would guess this is the case, since the suspect was able to hop into the patrol car and take off)? Aren’t we all taught never to do that or else you’re asking for your car to be stolen? Anwyay, glad everyone is ok otherwise.

    • LP

      Cops do everything we’re taught not to do (and is illegal). It’s ok for them to do it though, their professionals (sarcasm).

      • Quoth the Raven

        LP, kind of a cheap shot there. For all you (or I) know, leaving the keys in is dept policy, maybe b/c it’s easier to start the engine quickly or something like that. So maybe let’s wait for more facts before blithely assuming the officer did wrong.

        • LP

          Fair enough, but even if it is department policy for leaving the keys running, a lot of things that they do is illegal, stupid and dangerous (policy or not).

          • Becky

            Whan I was growing up I was always taught to do as you were told not as the adults do. Just because the officer left the keys does not make it an open invitation to steal. I was there when this was going on and it was a terrible situation!

      • Eponymous Coward

        their != they’re

        Can someone comment knowledgeably on whether it is standard protocol to leave keys in the vehicle at a traffic stop assist? Because, as GP observes, that seems like a bad idea.

        And best wishes to the injured.

        • j

          wrong blog

        • LP

          Thanks for the grammar catch – trying to type as fast my anger brews whenever I see a cop do something illegal for no reason!

          • CW

            That’s an oxymoron; the law does not apply.

          • drax

            Now it’s illegal to keep your keys in the ignition?

            Calm down, LP.

          • Really

            Well when an officer sees another officer fighting with a person on the side of the road unlike you who would keep driving down the highway he going stop and run over to assist. So yea the keys are left in the vehicle. Way to be a JA when you and the other drivers in the highway didn’t stop the help the officer out. Dumbass

          • Amos

            Get a grip!

      • CW

        +1 to that; the Department has radioactive spiders that bite the officer trainees to make them superhuman. Then they can do things that mortals could never dream of, like drive 100 mph on 66 at night with no lights while talking on the phone, and turn signals become replaced by telephathic powers.

      • Zoning Victim

        Because that way you’re not fumbling for your keys if the driver of the other car waits until you get up to the bumper of his car and then takes off. Not to mention all of the electronics inside the car not running your battery down. I knew a police officer who use to leave his car running in the parking lot with the lights on (regular lights, not the emergency) when he’d go into McDonalds for lunch so it would be easier for people to find him if they needed help; not exactly the best idea, though.

        A better question is why the perp doesn’t have at least one bullet hole in him (not sarcasm).

        • Miss B

          Good Answer!

    • b/c

      maybe b/c you have two radios on and you have your flashing lights going, maybe that might have a drain on your battery.
      so when you get into your car in 5 min your car your car is dead ……… just a thought…………..

      • b/c

        not to mention their computer as well…..

  • Super Trooper
    • JamesE

      I swear to God I’m going to pistol whip the next guy who says, ” Shenanigans.”

      • Mac

        Hey Farva, what’s the name of that restaurant you like with all the goofy sh*t on the walls and the mozzarella sticks?

        • farva

          Oh, you mean Shenanigans?

    • french fries n gravy

      This is a cop car! You cant steal a cop car!

  • Brendan

    Hah, my first thought too.

  • George

    now were talking!

  • roquer

    Too bad the police didn’t shoot the SOB. Way too much coddling of bad guys in today’s world. A mountain of pain to the bad guy means he might not do it again.

    • drax

      Let’s just assume the cop had a clear shot, without danger to the public, without having even been there!

      • Ballston

        Why would he shoot him? Then he’d have to clean all that blood out of his car in addition to repairing the damage.

    • speonjosh

      Remind me to move out when roquer takes the reins.

      Better yet, let’s put him in charge and see if he can live up to his big anonymous internet talk.

  • what a turd.

  • HollaArlington

    I’ve done several ride-alongs with different police departments and rarely did they turn the vehicle off. They all carried a spare door key and usually locked the door if they felt the vehicle might be entered by a third party.

    To all of you who assume many things about a police officer, I encourage to call the department and ask to go on a ride along. Your opinions will change the first 30-minutes of your experience…trust me.

    • Eponymous Coward

      Thank you, sir. I knew someone around here might actually have a clue, instead of spouting off nonsense and homophone errors.

    • Miss B

      Indeed. A lot of assumptions by people who have no clue.

      • esmith69

        It’s frightening how many people on in our area (and on ARLNow) really seem to dislike police officers.

        I know a woman who just got busted for a DUI a few weeks ago, and all her family could do was complain about how awful the cops in the area are (as if it’s the woman’s fault that she was driving drunk).

        We need to grow up and respect the people that put their lives on the line every day, instead of just automatically assuming all cops are out to “get” us or to “cheat the systerm”.

        • esmith69

          sorry, I meant to say “as if it’s the COP’S fault the woman was driving drunk”

          • Miss B

            It is amazing. The stories I hear. Apparently no one is ever at fault for breaking the law, illegally carrying weapons, driving drunk, selling drugs, molesting children. This is always the cop’s fault and we need to make sure they know we are on to them. Any time I was speeding, it was the cops fault.

        • Bluemontsince1961


          Yes, there are those cops that are bad apples, but I seriously doubt that the majority of cops are SOBs. Any job putting one’s life on the line, whether police, fire fighter, or paramedic/emergency medical personnel, requires a lot of internal fortitude.

        • speonjosh

          I think I know where you are coming from. However, I think some suspicion and wariness of the police is generally a healthy response.

          Just as we should not automatically assume that all cops are out to “get” us, we should not automatically respect a person just because they have a badge and a gun.

          I would add that I am frightened by how many people are so quick to convict and condemn anyone involved in a story they read about on the Internet. There are so many details involved that remain unknown.

          • HeyThere

            I disagree. I think that we all should respect each other. Cop, civilian, or criminal. Respect SHOULD be automatic…at least until it its proven not to be deserved.

        • BlueLoom


    • Joe

      Now, now, let’s hold on a minute. The “ridealongs” are VERY carefully staged. The Police Depratment sends you out with an officer they know via performance metrics actually works hard. They send you with someone they are comfortable having interact with the “rider” or “observer”.

      Now will they send you with one of the officers who’s on a first name basis with the staffs at Dunkin Donuts and Corner Bakery? Well, no. Will they send you out a police officer who doesn’t write tickets and make arrests? Again, no. Will they send you out with an officer who has been shown to drop the ball on “due diligence” and instead jumps to conclusions? Again, no. Finally, will they send you with an officer who explicitly profiles? Once more, that would be a “no”.

      So, you know, it’s great to do a “ride along”, but don’t think a very tailored, carefully designed PR opportunity is at all representative of the “rank and file” Arlington PD officer. You can be impressed with the officer who takes you on a “ride along”. At the same time, you can conclude that increasingly brazen actions like stealing police cruisers and robbing banks–coupled with more careless traffic behavior amongst all motorists in Arlington–points to a police department that is much more about publicity than actual policing.

      • speonjosh

        Gosh, that was sounding so good and so reasonable until you got to the part about “a police department that is much more about publicity than actual policing.” Why’d you have to go and ruin a perfectly good post like that?

      • Your comment makes me sick. It’s my son who is facing an operation on his broken hand. It’s my son who now will have a scar on his face for life. It’s my son who after attending an autoposy in Fairfax was on his way back to Arlington and observed a fellow officer who looked like he needed assistance, stopped and maybe saved the life of the other officer .

        Nest time you are in Arlington and need help, call another department if you think Arlington’s dept. is so bad.

        • Gabby

          Mike — Thank you for writing in to give us the details. Please thank your son and wish him a speedy recovery. All the best.

      • dk

        Also feeling a bit ill right now.

        Maybe those increasingly brazen actions you mention are driven by a culture that respects nothing and no one. Me me me!

    • Andy

      I took the Citizen’s Police Academy class, and also did a ride-along with an officer at the conclusion. I agree with HollaArlington. These officers work hard. I rode along on what would be considered a relatively quiet evening (a weeknight), and the officer spent the entire time going between calls, or transporting suspects, or speaking with other officers about open cases, and on one traffic stop (some guy ran a red light right in front of us).

      One additional thing that amazed me — people around here drive as idiotically in the presence of a police cruiser as they do at all other times. If the officer I rode with did a traffic stop for every infraction he saw, he would never get more than a mile down the road in the entire duration of his shift. One lady even pulled out of a side street on Rt. 50 right in front of us, causing the officer to jam on his breaks. He was on his way to a call at the time, so he didn’t pull her over.

      • Michael H.

        I saw a driver speed past a stopped school bus when a police cruiser was right behind him. I was glad to see that guy get pulled over. He could have struck one of the kids.

        • Michael H.

          Meant to add “a couple weeks ago”

    • sunflower


    • sunflower


  • Clarendon

    Wasn’t this in a movie plot ?


    NOT up in here !

  • Db

    Since the car was on the side of the highway backing another officer on a traffic stop I assume he had the blue lights on. The engine would be left running so the battery wouldn’t die.

  • za

    I hope parking enforcement gave the suspect a ticket for parking on I-66 and another for driving a car without the Arlington County property tax sticker.

    • Ren

      AWESOME! ‘Cops’ is undeniably saved from cancellation now, as this sounds like a couple episodes worth.

  • Hope he is ok

    In this case, the trooper was fighting the suspect when the Arlington officer drove by. You want him to turn off his car and lock his doors before helping? Some of you on this site are pathetic, especially commenting on stuff you know nothing about. As an FYI, law enforcement is exempt from traffic laws by VA Code in the performance of their duties, with the exception of driving the wrong way down a one way street. ThIs exemption includes seat belts, leaving your keys in the car, and all others. Focus on the officer that got hurt trying to assist, and stop the criticism of things you know nothing about.

    • CrystalMikey


    • Bluemontsince1961


    • me too

      !! What a crazy situation. Thanks to all involved for keeping those in the way SAFE. This could have had a much different ending.

  • brian

    What’s is the subjects names?

    • nom de guerre

      Is your comment an answer to a Jeopardy question?

  • Bemused bystander

    Silly question nobody has asked: Why was an Arlington police officer in a marked car on I-66 in Prince William County?

    • drax

      Looking for his keys.

    • nom de guerre

      Hopefully on some type of official business-court appearance, meeting with other LEO’s, training, conference, etc.

    • db

      Maybe because a cops duties sometimes take them outside of the jurisdiction they work in. Training, meetings, etc

    • Aaron

      Is there any difference between Arlington Co. Chipotles and Prince William Co. Chipotles, etc., etc.?

      • nom de guerre

        Food at an Arlington Chipotle costs 4% more due to the meals tax.

        • Aaron

          That’s an interesting hypothesis, but I think we’ll need to repeat the experiment a few hundred more times to have a sufficient sample size for our analysis.

    • Tax Dollars Hard at Work?

      Exactly. I was wondering the same exact thing.

  • Jon

    Someone please get those officers some tasers!

  • Always Right

    Why didn’t they put a bullet in his %^&* instead of letting him get away?

  • Amos

    Attention LP
    Remember – engage brain before typing
    Have you had a ride along from the back of the paddy wagon?

    • John

      Maybe the cops were distracted by how cool they all looked wearing there vests on the outside like the SWAT team while they write public intoxication tickets to 25-year old YPs.

  • tom smart

    a friend of mine in the state dept, who jailed from manhattan once said, the only difference between the mafia and the police is that the police operate behind a veil of legality. and I tend to believe that the older I get.

    • tom smart

      hailed not jailed. funny

  • YTK

    WTH was the subject “on”??? I don’t have ONE TENTH the amount of energy he had.


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