Farmer pursues suspected car prowlers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Farmer pursues suspected car prowlers

47-year-old Meri Leigh Popejoy said she was not aware of the theft and was napping at the time 47-year-old Meri Leigh Popejoy said she was not aware of the theft and was napping at the time
Justin Michael Larkin Justin Michael Larkin

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. - A Grant County farmer is being credited with helping police arrest three car prowling suspects after they broke into his truck and led him on a pursuit.

Friday, 48-year-old John Rizzuti was working in a field when he spotted a Grand Am pull up next to his pickup truck. Rizzuti says he saw a man get out of the car and into his pickup where he started taking some of his things out of the truck.

Still in his combine, Rizzuti began heading toward his pickup and was able to make it to his car and follow the suspects.

Rizzuti followed the trio, one of which was driving, at times, nearly 100 miles per hour down gravel roads. Rizzuti also said that while he was pursuing the car, the suspects were tossing his property out of the windows.

A nearby deputy was called in to assist in the pursuit, as were two units from the Mattawa Police Department.

Police say because Rizzuti was able to maintain visual contact with the fleeing suspects, police were able to eventually stop the Grand Am and arrest the three inside.

When police searched the car, they found several stolen items taken from a business in Richland including tools, flashlights, files, tin snips and a dent puller - typically used by vehicle prowlers to pull ignitions in car thefts. 

Police also found a GPS tracking unit and a laptop bag with a credit card machine to read debit and credit cards. Police say these items were stolen from a car in Richland.

Arrested and booked into the Grant County Jail were 29-year-old Justin Michael Larkin of Tacoma; 26-year-old Colette Amber Rose Lambert (driver) Eatonville and 47-year-old Meri Leigh Popejoy of Tacoma. 

Popejoy told deputies she was not aware of the theft or chase because she was taking a nap.

All three were charged with criminal trespassing and theft charges, among others.

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