Caught on camera: Tire thief gets away from police

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Some gutsy moves by a would-be tire thief in Branford. Surveillance video shows police pulling up to the scene as the suspect attempts to take a tire off of a jeep. As an officer steps out of his car, the suspect casually gets back in his and then drives away.

The owners of Al Mac Motors Two on North Main Street say a wheel lock stopped the thief this time.

“He basically crawls right down here, he smashes this center cap off, jacks the vehicle up by the gas tank, got the wheel off the ground though, realizes there’s a wheel lock, still wasn’t able to pull the tire and wheel off,” said co-owner Wayne Maculaitis.

Maculaitis says his business has been hit by tire thieves nine times in the last year.

“I truly believe it’s the same person coming in and out of here. Different vehicles, same style same tools. Just the whole situation feels very similar every time he comes,” said Maculaitis.

Maculaitis says while the thief didn’t get away with the tire this last time, he has in the past. He usually strikes in the overnight hours between Sundays and Mondays. This last time, it was someone working at the Mobil station across the street that alerted police.

At least three cop cars responded to the call. Branford police say perhaps they could have handled it differently.

“At this point we also thought we had him. Who would have ever thought when the police officers showed up that this person would not comply with the officer to stop?” said Captain Geoffrey Morgan with the Branford Police Department.

The suspect hit a truck and a police cruiser as he got away. Officers pursued but stopped when the chase became dangerous.

“You know, it was 4 a.m. at which time it’s a greater risk to the community than to be chasing someone over the possible theft of stolen tires,” said Captain Morgan.

“I think enough is enough. I don’t want the police department or the people we do business with to mistake our frustration for anger. It’s tough to do business everyday coming in and seeing cars on their sides and on cinder blocks,” said Maculaitis.

Police say they think they have a good idea who the suspect is and are confident he will be caught.