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10/03/17 Orleans, MA – Man Steals Running Dennis Police Cruiser – Crashes Into Fence, Pile Of Wood, And Lawn Mower – Tries To Escape – Says He Wanted To Get Arrested

October 3, 2017


A Harwich Port man was ordered held Tuesday on a total of $5,000 bail in two cases in Orleans District Court after allegedly stealing a running police cruiser earlier in the morning from a South Dennis convenience store and crashing it in Harwich.

Joseph Burns, 27, drove the cruiser into Harwich where he intentionally crashed it into a small wood pile on the side of the road, according to a statement read in court by the prosecution.

In the Harwich case, Burns pleaded not guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, second offense; negligent operation; a marked lanes violation; speeding; and leaving the scene of property damage. He pleaded not guilty to the following charges filed by Dennis police: malicious destruction of a motor vehicle as a subsequent offense and operating with a suspended license.

Additional charges were pending at the time of his arraignment.

Burns, who appeared in court wearing a Patriots T-shirt and black leather jacket, told a doctor after his arrest that he had been drinking for eight days, according to a police report. His appointed attorney, Lance Beauchain, said alcoholism played a role in his client’s actions.

Around 12:35 a.m., Dennis police Officer Jared Stobie left his cruiser running while he went into the Cumberland Farms.

One or two minutes later, a man came into the store and told Stobie that a person in a black jacket and backpack had stolen the cruiser, the report says.

Stobie immediately told police dispatch that his cruiser had been taken and was possibly headed to Theophilus F. Smith Road, according to the report.

Harwich police Officer Robert Hadfield saw the cruiser on Route 28 coming at him at a high rate of speed, according to a separate police report. He turned around and tried to pull the cruiser over, but realized it had left the roadway on the south side of Route 28, near Chase Street, and crashed into a fence, a pile of wood and a lawn mower, according to Hadfield’s report.

Burns left the cruiser and attempted to run, but fell on his back, the report says. In his hand, he had a corn-on-the-cob pick, Hadfield wrote.

He told the officer he may be injured, he had been drinking, and that he had stolen a vehicle from the Shell station in Harwich the night before, according to the report.

Burns told Harwich police that he “wanted to get arrested, that’s why I did this,” according to a report by Harwich police Officer Ryan Fazzino.

Burns was brought to Cape Cod Hospital for evaluation, but a doctor determined he suffered no new injuries, the report says. A check with the Registry of Motor Vehicles found Burns’ license was “revoked for immediate threat,” according to Stobie’s report.

At the hospital, Burns told Stobie that he was trying to hit a pole near where he crashed because his friend died there eight years ago, according to the report.

“He said he turned away from the pole last minute because he couldn’t do it,” Stobie wrote.

In 2009, 19-year-old Steven Saling died when a minivan in which he was a passenger crashed in the same area. Eric St. Cyr, of South Dennis at the time, pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide by way of operating under the influence of liquor and was sentenced to 2½ years in jail, with two years to serve.

Dennis police did not respond to a request for more information about the incident.

Burns is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 3.

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