May 21st, 2018

Vehicle theft suspect still in custody

By Shurtz, Delon on December 7, 2017.

Delon Shurtz

Lethbridge Herald

A Calgary man remains in custody in Lethbridge following what police are calling a brazen series of break-ins last month to car dealerships in the city.

The accused, Eric Christopher Smith, made a brief appearance in provincial court Wednesday, where he appeared by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre.

Although Smith was scheduled for a bail hearing, duty counsel told court the accused had only spoken to Legal Aid and didn’t have a lawyer to represent him. The matter was adjourned for a week to provide time for Legal Aid to make the appointment.

At about 9:53 p.m. last Thursday police responded to a break-in at Dunlop Ford along the 1500 block of Mayor Magrath Drive South after a man driving a truck stolen from Calgary plowed into a garage door. The man took a set of keys and, after being confronted by an employee, fled to the parking lot where he used the keys to steal an F350 truck.

While police investigated the theft, the suspect drove to Bridge City Chrysler in the 3200 block of 1 Avenue South and crashed the stolen F350 into a garage door. He again took keys and drove a Fiat Spyder down the street where, police believe, he intended to return later to pick up the vehicle.

As he attempted to move other vehicles from the lot, a security officer arrived and the suspect fled, this time in a Dodge Ram 1500.

Just before 12:30 a.m. Friday a police officer saw the suspect in the stolen truck near the dealership and two other officers blocked the vehicle’s path. The man rammed both police vehicles, however, and fled on Highway 3 where police pursued him as he left the city limits.

RCMP deployed a spike belt, which disabled the truck, but not the driver, who fled on foot. He was later found in a shed and caught by Myke, a Lethbridge police dog. The man was treated by EMS and arrested.

Smith, 22, is charged with single counts of dangerous driving, possession of stolen property over $5,000, mischief over $5,000, and resisting a peace officer. He also faces multiple counts of shopbreaking and commit theft, motor vehicle theft, flight from a peace officer, driving without insurance, assaulting a peace officer, disqualified driving, mischief under $5,000, possession of stolen property under $5,000, theft under $5,000 and drug possession.

Smith made his first appearance court Monday, but the matter was adjourned for two days. His next court hearing is set for Wednesday.

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