Lancaster, CA - Woman Steals Sheriff's SUV - Screaming Over Radio - 2 Hour Televised Helicopter Pursuit


LANCASTER, Calif. -- An "unstable" 25-year-old woman being questioned by deputies in a stolen-vehicle case apparently "panicked" and drove off in the officer's black-and-white SUV in a Lancaster-area community on Thursday morning, deputies said.

The woman stole the SUV at about 9:20 a.m., said sheriff's Sgt. Paul Patterson of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau. The deputy left the engine running while talking to the woman, and she got in and drove off, Patterson said.

Patterson said a decision to leave a vehicle's engine running "depends on the circumstances."

Shortly before 11 a.m. it appeared at least one, and possibly two, of the tires on the vehicle had blown. A deputy said a spike strip that the vehicle drove over earlier appeared at the time to be ineffective, but may have had more impact than was initially realized.

Authorities followed her on the ground and via a helicopter, and managed to contact her via the patrol vehicle's radio, Patterson said.

Deputy Oscar Butao said the woman is 25, "unstable" and was crying. He said she was "screaming" into the vehicle's communications radio and had asked to contact her boyfriend and mother.

Investigators were able to talk to the woman and calm her down, deputies said, and crisis negotiators were trying to coax her into surrendering.

The woman was apprehended after about two hours in a Lancaster neighborhood near 13th Street and Ivesbrook Street. Deputies approached the vehicle and instructed  her to exit. When she did not immediately comply, deputies dragged the woman from the SUV.