Thursday, February 25, 2010
Augusta Businessman Hunts Down Car Thief
A car thief in Columbia County picked the wrong house to target this week.
A well-respected Augusta businessmen stumbled upon the suspect in his driveway in Columbia County on Tuesday night and ended up chasing the man down and helping authorities catch him, according to a sheriff's report.
Vincent Willis, 24, was busted Tuesday on charged of aggravated assault, entering auto to commit theft and driving under suspension.
A sheriff's report described what happened when businessman Fred Daitch arrived at his Evans home Tuesday:
Mr. Daitch, owner of International Uniform, arrived home about 10 p.m. and pulled up to his mailbox. He saw what he thought was his son or daughter leaning inside of his daughter's car and yelled out, "How about cleaning out the car while you are in there?" He called his daughter's name three times with no response and realized something was wrong.
Mr. Daitch pulled up the driveway and saw the suspect, who was wearing a dark jacket with white stripes on it. The man exited his daughter's vehicle, ran and jumped the fence to his back yard. The homeowner dialed 911 and gave a description of the subject and what happened.
A dispatcher told Mr. Daitch to stay home until deputies arrived, but the businessman decided to get into his vehicle and drive to the street behind his house to see if he saw the suspect walking down the street. As he drove down the street, he saw the would-be thief get into a burgundy Honda Accord that was backed into the cul-de-sac.
He watched as the suspect started the Honda and then drove off at a high rate of speed with no lights on, running through several stop signs. Mr. Daitch followed the suspect and managed to get in front of the Honda as he attempted to get the suspect to slow down or to stop, but the man drove around him. Mr. Daitch again went around Mr. Willis, but this time he started driving over into Mr. Willis' lane to get him to stop.
The suspect then rammed his Honda into the passenger side of the victim's truck at North Belair Road at Evans to Locks Road. That's where the suspect lost control of his vehicle and went off the west shoulder of the roadway into a field.
Mr. Willis got out of the vehicle and ran west behind American Gas on Evans to Locks Road. After a short foot pursuit, Mr. Willis was caught and arrested by deputies, who had apparently arrived on the scene at that point.
The victim owns International Uniform on Broad Street, a business that sells golf apparel and accessories as well as medical uniforms. In 2006, he was named the Small Business Person of the Year by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.