Stolen police cruiser, car with baby inside keep Calgary officers busy
Helicopter chase, urgent search for infant made for dramatic afternoon
Calgary police tracked a stolen cruiser by helicopter for about a half hour Monday afternoon — and rescued a six-month-old baby in the back seat of a different stolen vehicle.
Both cars had been left unlocked and running, Calgary Police Service Staff Sgt. Jeff Bell said. They were recovered before anyone was hurt.
The car with a baby in it was stolen outside Sunridge Professional Centre in northeast Calgary, he said.
The accused thief was not believed to have known an infant was in the back seat, Bell said. Officers found the vehicle abandoned nearby only seven minutes after the baby's parent called police.
The infant was found safe in the car, and the suspect, a man, was arrested after a short foot chase.
"I believe it would be a crime of opportunity," Bell said. "Really consider that vehicles are an opportunity and people look for opportunities to steal the vehicles."
Runaway police car
In the case of the stolen police vehicle, officers had to "make contact" with the runaway car to get it to stop in the parking garage at SAIT, Bell said.
The unusual affair began shortly before 1:30 p.m. when an officer responded to a call of a suspicious person near 28th Avenue and 14th Street S.W.
The officer got out of the car quickly to deal with the situation, Bell said, leaving the police vehicle unlocked and running.
The suspect hopped in and took off.
"Sometimes we don't have the luxury to shut our vehicles off, and this isn't done for the convenience of staying warm," Bell said. "This is done obviously to deal with... a complaint that had come into the Calgary Police Service."
Police used HAWCS (helicopter air watch for community safety) and "covert resources" to track the car, which has a GPS system police could follow remotely.
The driver eventually drove into the parkade at the college off 16 Avenue N.W. He was taken into custody.
Bell would not say how police were able to stop the vehicle. He did say no firearms or weapons were found inside the vehicle.
"This was obviously a dynamic situation and as a result, we saw what happened," Bell said. "Obviously we're going to review internally what we can do so that this doesn't happen again."
Journalists were invited to a press conference at the parkade after the chase ended and were not permitted to approach the recovered vehicle.
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With files from Anis Heydari and Scott Dippel