01/08/2001

Bumbling car thief
pulls into sheriff's parking lot
[San Leandro, CA]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(San Leandro, Calif.) -- A bumbling and drunken suspected car thief who police were about to pursue decided to avoid capture by hiding in an odd place — a parking lot for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

Lawmen charged that Kenneth Clark, 31, had stolen the vehicle on New Year's day and was being pursued by the car owner's husband when he pulled into the Eden Township substation lot -- and then parked in the spot designated for the sheriff., the Alameda Times-Star reported.

Deputies told the newspaper that the car owner's husband had called by cell phone to say that he was pursuing the thief. Deputies were about to get into their cars and join the pursuit when the alleged thief came to them by driving into their parking lot.

The deputies then drew their guns and pulled Clark out of the vehicle, the Alameda Times-Star reported. He was charged with car theft and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Clark's Jan. 1 arrest was just one of more than 670 made by Alameda County law enforcement agencies during the holiday period in a campaign to get drunk drivers off the road.

The 21 agencies involved told the newspaper that arrests were 40 percent higher than last year and, as a result, car crashes with injuries plummeted more than 30 percent.

"We had 40 percent more drinking drivers off the road and prevented them from having crashes," Jan Ford, spokesman for the sheriff's office, told the Times-Star.

Sgt. Dale Amaral of the sheriff's office, told the newspaper that the agencies used a "strike force" to attack drunk driving — and it worked. Tactics included massive police deployments, checkpoints and intense enforcement.

"The trick with this program and where it works so well is in the days when all the jurisdictions get together," Amaral told the newspaper. "All these different agencies have different levels of expertise, which can now be utilized by the other agencies."

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