Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded to three separate incidents early Monday morning, in which the suspects evaded capture. The sheriff’s office blamed a lack of resources, as well as police reform laws and department policy regarding vehicle pursuits, for hampering their efforts.
Deputies responded at 1:54 a.m. to the 23000 block of Northeast 72nd Avenue for a crashed pickup. Upon arrival, they learned the driver and passengers ran from the scene. Deputies found a firearm inside the pickup and determined the vehicle was previously stolen in Vancouver and had stolen license plates, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
A caller reported the pickup as suspicious about a half-hour prior, and it eluded Vancouver police, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies attempted to look for the occupants but abandoned the search, citing a lack of resources at night within the sheriff’s office. The pickup was impounded.
The sheriff’s office said “there is no known threat of harm to the public at this time.”
Later in the morning, at 5:06 a.m., deputies responded to 8910 N.E. Hazel Dell Ave., for a report of vehicle prowling in a parking lot. The suspect was driving a white 2006 Ford Econoline, which was confirmed stolen Sunday from a small business in Vancouver. The business’s tools were also stolen with the van, according to the news release.
The van was gone before deputies arrived, but it was located a short time later near Northeast Sixth Avenue and 78th Street in a parking lot. As deputies tried to contact the driver, the van drove off and entered Interstate 5, the news release states.
About an hour later, at 6 a.m., deputies were notified of a “burglary in progress” at a closed automotive business near Northeast 121st Avenue and Fourth Plain Boulevard. The suspects were seen driving a newer BMW with no license plates. They had entered a locked storage area and were stealing tires, the sheriff’s office said.
Responding deputies found the BMW driving in the area and saw new tires, wrapped in packaging, inside. Deputies attempted to stop the car, but it sped off, according to the news release.
The sheriff’s office said state law and department policy restricts law enforcement from pursuing a vehicle, attempting to use tire deflation devices, or blocking or pinning the vehicle before it flees when property crimes are the only alleged offense.
House Bill 1054, among the 2021 police reform laws, concerns when law enforcement can chase suspects who flee in vehicles. Officers can pursue people suspected of driving under the influence or if there is probable cause to believe the person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense.
“This is a reminder for Clark County residents to be vigilant about their own safety and property. Please keep your vehicles locked, empty of valuables, and not left running unattended,” the sheriff’s office said. “Suspects fleeing in stolen vehicles who are thought to be committing additional crimes is a common nightly occurrence for deputies, who currently have no legal authority to pursue the vehicle and have no tactics to safely address the occupied vehicle within policy.”
All three cases remain open, the news release states, and no suspects have been identified.