GULFPORT — In the city's continuing effort to crack down on juvenile car thieves, police are making a small change in their pursuit policy in hopes of making a big change in the number of car thieves they catch.
Now, police can only chase a vehicle if they believe an occupant has been involved in a violent felony.
Starting April 22, police will be able to pursue a vehicle if they think a car's occupant has been involved in a forcible felony. That includes burglary, which includes car theft.
Cracking down on car thieves has been a priority with the police, especially after data released in January showed it to be the city's fastest growing crime. Forty-eight car thefts were reported in 2008, and 79 were reported in 2009.
Chief Robert Vincent says officers have been trained to pursue a vehicle safely.