LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Lufkin police have arrested a suspect who allegedly stole a vehicle from an auto repair shop and led officers on a pursuit which exceeded speeds of 100 mph.
According to Lufkin police, around 7 p.m. Sunday, an officer saw a silver Chevy Cruze turn onto Frank Avenue from North Raguet Street into oncoming traffic. Seconds later, the officer saw an SUV do the same thing. The driver of the SUV motioned to the officer that they were chasing the car.
Police said the officer caught up with the suspect vehicle on North Raguet Street and attempted to initiate a traffic stop but the driver – later identified as Travis Thorton, 27, refused to stop. Thornton continued on North Raguet and crossed into the grass in front of First Christian Church before cutting out onto South First Street at more than 80 mph. Thornton continued on South First/U.S. 59 and turned onto FM 819. He then headed outbound on C C Road toward FM 1818. That is where the officer had to terminate the 11-minute pursuit for safety due to road conditions.
The officer spoke with the other driver who flagged him down. That is when he learned that the suspect stole the car from a repair shop minutes earlier. The shop owner and his son caught Thorton trying to steal wheels from another vehicle. When they confronted him, Thorton jumped in the car, which was there for repairs. He then backed into another vehicle while attempting to flee the scene.
The shop owner’s son pursued the stolen vehicle until he came into contact with the officer. The car was entered into the stolen vehicle database at that time.
Police said around 2 a.m. Monday, the same officer came upon the suspect vehicle again on North Timberland Drive near Brookshire Brothers. The officer initiated a traffic stop, but Thorton refused to pull over.
Police said Thorton continued north on U.S. 59 toward Nacogdoches at speeds of more than 100 mph. He exited into the DPS weigh station but found the gate locked. He then backed into the officer’s patrol unit and cut through a grassy hill to escape back onto the highway. A short distance later, Thorton used a turnaround to head sound toward Lufkin.
An officer successfully spiked three of the four vehicle tires, dropping pursuit speeds to around 30 mph.
Police said the officer who initiated the pursuit is certified to perform PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuvers. The officer pitted the suspect vehicle on North Timberland near Angelina Animal Hospital to prevent further risk to motorists on the more heavily traveled Timberland Drive.
Thorton was taken into custody without incident 17 minutes after the pursuit began.
After being medically cleared, he was taken to the Angelina County Jail on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and evading arrest.
The Angelina County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the incident.
No one was injured in the incident.