Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

St. Petersburg man chases his stolen truck through city

ST. PETERSBURG — Andrew Finley grabbed his wife's keys and flung open the door, his 21-year-old son on his heels. They were off to catch a criminal.

No, this isn't a tale of vigilantism or police training. But it did end with a thwarted crime and the recovery of a stolen truck.

Finley, 42, was at home with his three children and his wife, Kimberly, about 11 p.m. Monday when they heard revving, Kimberly Finley said.

"That's your truck," she said. "I hear it every morning."

Sure enough, Finley's dark blue 2001 Dodge Ram was squealing down the street, the thief grinding the gears of the stick shift. Finley said he jumped in his wife's van with his son Joseph, and they sped through St. Petersburg after it.

"My first reaction was, 'I can catch him,' " he said.

They followed the truck from his house at 1765 26th Ave. N through the neighborhood and toward downtown St. Petersburg, according to St. Petersburg police. Finley kept a close watch on his truck, pulling up behind it at a distance and talking through his moves with a 911 operator.

The thief got wise after a while, and he sped into a parking lot along Ninth Avenue N, Finley said. Finley, who is a press operator for Lockheed Martin, was straight behind.

They lost sight of the truck after they got stuck behind a car along First Avenue S, but by then St. Petersburg police had caught up with the truck.

Police said they cornered the vehicle near a trash bin at a gas station not far away. They arrested Herman Monroe Wilder, 48, and charged him with stealing the truck and driving drunk.

The Finley family later found out Wilder got into the truck with a spare key. Kimberly Finley said police had told her he'd jimmied open another car the Finleys owned and found a ring of spare vehicle keys.

When Andrew Finley got home about 1 a.m., he said, he gathered his family and prayed out of relief. "We're all just real happy nobody got hurt and everything was returned to us," he said.

Wilder is being held at Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to jail records.

St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said Finley did the right thing by following the truck at a distance without trying to stop it.

"This isn't common. Most people don't discover these things until after the fact," he said. "I'd say these people took the correct course of action."

Comments

Florida boy, 6, dies of rabies contracted from a bat

ORLANDO — A 6-year-old Florida boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital.Father Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat, put it ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Pasco man fatally struck on Interstate 70 in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Florida man died after he was hit by a car as he walked along Interstate 70 near Salina.The patrol says 35-year-old Cody Nordlund of New Port Richey died Sunday night.He was walking in an eastbound lane...
Updated: 2 hours ago

6-year-old Florida boy dies of rabies contracted from a bat

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 6-year-old Florida boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat. The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital. Father Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat,...
Published: 01/15/18

Pinellas sheriff: Inmate, 59, found dead in county jail

CLEARWATER — A 59-year-old inmate was found dead Sunday night in the county jail, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Johnny Mack Amons was pronounced dead at about 6:28 p.m. on Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office said, at the Pinellas County ...
Published: 01/15/18
2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

Another year gone, another year that Tampa Bay was one of the most dangerous places in the country for those walking or riding their bikes.More than 100 people were killed walking in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in 2017, according to sta...
Published: 01/15/18
Casino shuttle boat destroyed by fire as 50 passengers abandon ship in frigid Gulf

Casino shuttle boat destroyed by fire as 50 passengers abandon ship in frigid Gulf

By Jonathan Capriel, Howard Altman and Kirby WilsonTimes Staff Writers PORT RICHEY — A casino shuttle boat headed into the Gulf of Mexico caught fire Sunday, forcing 50 passengers to jump into chilly water just off a residential neighborhood. ...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/15/18

Lee County sees alarming increase in opioid overdoses

FORT MYERS — Health officials are calling attention to an alarming increase in opioid overdoses and deaths in southwest Florida.Lee County saw 955 overdose cases in 2017, eight times more than the 171 overdoses reported in 2013, according to medical ...
Published: 01/14/18

Florida fire chief quits over sexual harassment mishandling

WEST PALM BEACH — A fire rescue chief is resigning after allegations that he mishandled sexual harassment reports in his department. Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay said Saturday that fire Chief Jeff Collins’ resignation is effective next we...
Published: 01/14/18
FWC: Authorities find body of boater who went missing Saturday

FWC: Authorities find body of boater who went missing Saturday

TAMPA — Authorities have found the body of a Pinellas Park man in the water south of Rocky Point, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.Joshua Allen Ford’s body was found Sunday near his motorized canoe, according to the ...
Published: 01/14/18
Car goes airborne, slams into 2nd floor of California office

Car goes airborne, slams into 2nd floor of California office

SANTA ANA, CALIF. — Authorities say two people escaped serious injuries when the car they were in went airborne and slammed into the second floor of a dental office in Southern California.The Orange County Fire Authority says the Nissan Altima hit a ...
Published: 01/14/18