Rash of stolen cars continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2000

The theft of six vehicles in two days prompted Austin Police Chief Paul M.

Thursday, February 03, 2000

The theft of six vehicles in two days prompted Austin Police Chief Paul M. Philipp to state the obvious.

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"Don’t leave your vehicles with the keys inside and the engines running," he said.

All of the vehicles have been recovered, but the brazenness of the thefts inspired the police chief to issue the warning.

Earlier this week, one thief stole three vehicles, all of which were recovered.

On Wednesday, the mother of a Pacelli High School student was a victim.

According to an Austin Police Department report, the parent stopped at PHS and exited her vehicle with the engine running. She went into the school to deliver something for her child and when she returned she saw her vehicle being driven away.

The parent pursued the moving vehicle a short distance on foot and saw it stop in traffic near Austin High School and pickup and individual before driving away.

The parent notified the Austin – Mower County law enforcement center and officers were alerted to the stolen vehicle.

An Austin patrolman spotted the vehicle exiting Interstate 90 at the 28th Street SE exit. When the driver noticed the patrol car, he returned to I90 and took off eastbound.

The vehicle was pursued to the Mower County No. 20 – Beaver Trails Campgrounds freeway exit by the Austin patrolman, who reported speeds up to 90 miles per hour.

When the vehicle reached the County No. 20 exit, it simply crossed over the freeway and returned to I90 moving westbound.

Minnesota State Patrol troopers and Mower County Sheriff’s Department deputies blocked the westbound lanes in front of the stolen vehicle with stop sticks. When the stolen vehicle approached the road-block, it slowed and finally stopped.

Three male juveniles were taken into custody, including a 15-year-old teenager from Winona and two Austin teens, ages 12 and 15.

The Winona youth was later released to his mother, while the two Austin youths were referred by their probation officers to the Almore Academy and Minnesota Sheriff’s Youth Programs Austin Ranch School.

One of the youths confessed to stealing a van from a Winona residence and driving it to Austin, where it was abandoned in a parking lot outside The Cedars of Austin.

That marked the sixth stolen vehicle in two days and the police chief’s caution to all: "Don’t leave your keys in the car."