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North Belle Vernon police looking for thief who stole councilman's car

| Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Police are still seeking a man who stole a North Belle Vernon councilman's car Saturday and led police on a chase through the borough before escaping on foot.

The suspect is described as a white male between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 with a crew cut.

North Belle Vernon Councilman John Wasicek of the 600 block of Henry Street called police around 4:45 a.m. when his wife, Michele, went to leave for work and her vehicle was gone.

Michele Wasicek told police afterward she had kept a spare key to the car, a gray 2008 Toyota Highlander, in the glove compartment. After Sgt. Ron Van Scyoc arrived at the house, he and John Wasicek heard a loud vehicle making both a squealing noise and a thumping that sounded like a flat tire.

The vehicle stopped at the intersection of Henry and Vine streets and Van Scyoc headed to his police car. As the vehicle passed, Wasicek began yelling and pointing, stating it was the stolen Toyota.

Van Scyoc activated his lights and siren, stopping the Toyota at the intersection of Henry and Baltimore streets, and drew his gun.

The Toyota driver then sped away, traveling westbound along the 500 block of Henry Street.

Van Scyoc pursued before the suspect lost control of the Toyota, bumped into one car, then slid to the right and smashed into two vehicles owned by Todd Yancey of 315 Henry Street.

The vehicles, a Chrysler Sebring and Honda Odyssey van, were totaled.

The suspect then leaped out of the driver's side and ran down a driveway between two houses and into an alley. Van Scyoc, who had called for backup, then chased the suspect but lost sight of him.

“We were sleeping but we heard a loud crash. I peeked out my front window and saw the police lights and heard my van alarm going off,” Yancey said. “(The van) was kicked down the street about 8 feet. At that point, the (stolen) car was facing the house. I saw the airbag deployed and said, ‘Where's the driver?' thinking he was injured, and the officer said he fled.”

Rostraver, Washington Township and state police checked the area afterward, but were unable to locate the suspect.

It was a case of hard luck for Yancey, who just had the van repaired from a previous accident.

“It's just crazy,” he said. “If someone told me a week ago somebody would take out both my cars, hit them at around 50 to 60 miles an hour and run off, I'd have told them I had a better chance of hitting the lottery.”

Anyone with information about the stolen car is urged to call police at 724-929-7011.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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