EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 18, 2013

Hunch leads to recovery of stolen cars in Lawrence

By Mark E. Vogler

---- — LAWRENCE — Lawrence police Officer Gary Yancey had a hunch Friday morning that he should check the license plate of a Honda Accord that drove past him during the towing of an unregistered car on Crescent Street.

The green Honda came back stolen. And, suddenly, Yancey noticed a blue Honda Accord with a Rhode Island license plate traveling directly behind the stolen car. The officer later learned that the blue car was stolen too.

Police later arrested two 16-year-olds — a boyfriend and a girlfriend — in connection with the two stolen Hondas that were recovered from separate crash sites.

“I guess we know the Honda Accord is still the stolen car of choice,” Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said yesterday. He also commended Yancey’s “alert and heads-up police work.”

“He had a hunch and it paid off, resulting in the recovery of two stolen cars. Generally, you come across one stolen car in an incident. Here, he came up with two cars,” he said.

After learning that the green Honda was stolen, Yancey started following both cars onto Forest Street where he saw the drivers talking to each other through the open windows. At that point, the officer wrote in his report that he shouted “Lawrence Police, put your hands up,” but the two cars sped away.

The green Honda crashed head-on into a blue Toyota Rav4 traveling westbound on Haverhill Street. The young male driver fled the scene.

Meanwhile, the blue Honda crashed into a chain linked fence at the corner of Bevel and Hampston streets. It also destroyed a Department of Public Works garbage barrel. Police Officer George Wood captured the 16-year-old female driver on Hampton Street as she fled on foot and shoe-less.

While being questioned by detectives at the police station, the girl asked police to call her grandmother to make sure her boyfriend was OK. This led police to believe her boyfriend was the young suspect who had eluded police after fleeing from the green Honda.

The grandmother later gave police the cell phone number of the boyfriend.

Yancey said he later called the boyfriend and advised him that police had arrested his girlfriend. He told Yancey where police could find him. Soon after, he was arrested.

“When he walked in the booking room, he appeared to immediately recognize me and stated ‘I (expletive) up. I should’ve stopped,’” Yancey wrote.

The teens were both charged with receiving stolen motor vehicles, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of property damage.