Why Car Thieves Fear Police Dogs

A while back, a young man made the poor decision to steal a minivan. John (not his real name) drove around Vancouver in his stolen van until he caught the attention of two officers in a police car.  They conducted a traffic stop, and John pulled over.  John must have realised he was about to get caught, because he zoomed away as the officers approached his window.  The officers hopped back into their police car and gave chase.  However, with our stringent policies surrounding vehicle pursuits, coupled with the fact the van had not yet been reported stolen, the officers were required to stop pursing the van and John was able to get away.

But not for long.

In his haste to try and get rid of the stolen van, John tried to abandon it.   In doing so, he made his second bad decision of the night - the lane John chose to dump the van in was adjacent to the police station. 

Two different officers coming on shift saw John as he parked the stolen van, and they attempted to arrest him.  Without radios (they had not yet picked up their radios or police car) they had no way of knowing John had just fled from a traffic stop. John was able to drive away, this time dragging one of the officers for a short distance.  As he raced out of the lane, John’s decision making entered the ‘bad things happen in three’s’ realm when he narrowly avoided t-boning the police car that had originally spotted him.

So ensued another brief pursuit.  The officers in the police car were again instructed to stop pursuing (at this point, no one knew John had dragged another officer or that the on-foot guys had tried to arrest him), and John was able to get away. Again.

As this was all happening, PSD Hondo and I were driving into the area to see if we could be of assistance.  When the pursuit was terminated a second time, the police unit broadcast that John was last seen headed in my direction.  I pulled over, turned my headlights off, and sat there in my unmarked SUV.  I heard John before I saw him; the sound was similar to that of the space shuttle on takeoff, and I knew he was getting close. 

John blipped passed me at more than double the speed limit, barely in control of the van as he careened down the street and through a stop sign.  Then John proved his driving prowess by augering the van into the back of a construction trailer parked on the side of the road.  In an impressive explosion of smoke and debris the van literally flew through the air, coming to rest another half a block down.  The entire front end was gone, the wheels were angled to all points of the compass, and I was already driving towards the wreckage anticipating a fatality when the driver’s door popped open and John jumped out, uninjured.  It was proof again that somehow, these guys are able to survive accidents that would otherwise kill an innocent bystander. 

John tried to make a run for it, looking back at me over his shoulder while brandishing a can of bear spray.  Bad decision number four.

I yelled at him to stop or the police dog would be sent.  John kept on running.  Yup, you got it…that’s number five.

And so, John got a fast and hard lesson on the Law of Cause and Effect when he discovered the four paws of a police dog are much quicker than the two feet of a fleeing suspect.

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