Breckenridge Texan

Local law enforcement searching for alleged shoplifters who led officers on chase through Stephens County

Local law enforcement searching for alleged shoplifters who led officers on chase through Stephens County
January 03
18:41 2024

By Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Local and state law enforcement are searching for two suspects who were involved in an alleged theft and chase Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 3, that took officers on a circuitous route through Stephens County. At this time, the man and woman, who are believed to be from Breckenridge, are still at-large and are considered dangerous by local officers.The incident started at the Breckenridge Walmart, where the alleged theft occurred.

Breckenridge Police Department officers transport gear they removed from a police vehicle that was damaged in a car chase on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

According to Stephens County Sheriff Kevin Roach, Constable Wayne McMullen was at Walmart, where two people were pointed out to him as alleged shoplifters. When McMullen tried to stop the subjects, they fled in a four-door Subaru Legacy, Roach said.

“Then, the Breckenridge Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office jumped in to help him; we tried to get the guy stopped,” Roach said. “He fled, went west; the bridge is closed, shutting him down. So he come back into town and ended up going south on the South Loop.”

Along the way, Texas Department of Public Safety officers got involved and deployed spike strips on U.S. Highway 183 South in an attempt to stop the suspects, who avoided the spikes and continued fleeing from law enforcement.

“The guy was driving like an idiot, all over the road, into oncoming traffic,” Roach said. “The passenger actually calling 9-1-1 and told us to back off or he was gonna wreck the car. But that never happened.”

The suspects ended up on U.S. Highway 180 East, where they crashed their vehicle into a pond at a water treatment plant off of the highway.

“They fled on foot, him and her both, and they were last seen on foot,” Roach said. “We weren’t able to catch them, and, at this point, we’re still looking.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was working with the DPS to search for the suspects using two drones, one that’s a thermal drone and the other that’s a regular camera drone. The officers were set up in an area about 2.5 miles east of the Breckenridge city limits on U.S. Highway 180, but since the drones had not picked up any signs of the couple, Roach said law enforcement was getting ready to shut down the search around 5 p.m.

“We’re getting worried now that they made it to the highway and got a ride and possibly are inside the city somewhere, hiding out in a house,” he said. “We can identify them, we believe. We’re still working on 100 percent confirmation before releasing the names. But I’m confident we know who they are, and we’ll be getting warrants for their arrest and taking them into custody later.”

While pursuing the suspects across a pasture, Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell hit something that deployed his airbags, Roach said. The police chief’s vehicle was towed from the scene of the search late Wednesday afternoon.In addition to the Stephens County Constable, Breckenridge Police Department, Stephens County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Breckenridge Fire Department and Sacred Cross EMS responded, in case any injuries happened as the officers attempted to stop the suspects.

A Breckenridge Police Department vehicle that was damaged in a chase Wednesday afternoon is removed from a pasture east of Breckenridge. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Local and state law enforcement officers gathered in a field east of Breckenridge on Wednesday afternoon as they used drones to search for two suspected shoplifters who led police on a chase through Stephens County. The suspects eventually crashed their vehicle and fled on foot; they were still at-large at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 3. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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