Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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."

St. Petersburg man chases his stolen truck through city 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Navy expected to relieve admiral in charge of 7th Fleet in response to deadly disasters at sea


    The Navy will relieve the senior admiral in charge of the service's 7th Fleet based in Japan in response to four embarrassing accidents this year, two of which killed sailors at sea, two U.S. officials said.

    Tugboats assist the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain on its way to Changi Naval Base in Singapore on Monday. [U.S. Navy]
  2. Trump chides media over Charlottesville


    President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Va., protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counter-protester.

    Trump met service members before the rally.
  3. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'


    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  4. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed by another police union


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement