Man charged after Calgary police SUV stolen, chased by helicopter

A man has been charged after allegedly stealing a Calgary police vehicle, prompting a 30-minute helicopter chase through the city.

Matthew Macguagan is accused of hopping in an unlocked car and driving it through Calgary

Calgary Police Service held a press conference Monday to show a vehicle, pictured, that was stolen. However, press were not allowed to get close to the stolen SUV. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

A man has been charged after allegedly stealing a marked Calgary police SUV, prompting a half-hour-long helicopter chase through the city.

Matthew Macguagan has been charged with theft of a motor vehicle, hit and run, dangerous driving, impersonating a police officer and breaching conditions, including conditions forbidding him from driving or being in a vehicle without the registered owner.

Macguagan was arrested Monday in a parking garage at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in northwest Calgary. At the time, police said they had to "make contact" with the runaway vehicle in order to get it to stop.

The vehicle was stolen, police said, when an officer parked near 28th Avenue and 14th Street S.W. to investigate a suspicious person call.

The officer left the vehicle unlocked and running. Police say the thief hopped in and took off.

'Not even a mishap in judgement'

Calgary Police Service had to use a helicopter, covert services and the vehicle's internal GPS system to track the driver to the college campus before stopping the vehicle.

In a press conference Tuesday, acting police chief Steve Barlow said he knows what it's like on the street, and detailed how busy officers try to judge a situation before stepping out of their vehicles.

The incident, he said, was "not even a mishap in judgement. He got out to deal with a call, period — and if there's something we can learn from it, we will," Barlow said.

"I don't want to give it anything more than it is. I'm glad nobody got hurt. I'm glad we were able to recoup our equipment and deal with the [alleged] offender and move forward."

Police will review what happened and offer a debrief of their findings to help officers internally, he said.

Macguagan is due in court Wednesday.

With files from Dave Will and Scott Dippel


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