Two girls have been arrested, and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies are searching for a third suspect after a stolen SUV was found and a car was stolen in the Falls at Little Creek development off Hwy. A west of Festus, Sheriff’s Office Capt. Gary Higginbotham said.
At about 7:45 a.m. today (Nov. 26), deputies apprehended two females who allegedly ran from an abandoned Chevrolet Equinox at about 3:30 a.m. in the 10000 block of Victoria Falls Drive, Higginbotham said.
The Sheriff’s Office also is looking for a white BMW 650i, which was stolen from a home near where the two girls fled. The stolen BMW reportedly was driven off by a man who authorities believe was in the SUV before the deputy arrived in the subdivision, Higginbotham said.
Authorities initially believed there were three people who fled from the Equinox when the deputy arrived, but now the Sheriff’s Office believes it was only the two girls in the SUV at the time. Authorities believe the man was attempting to steal the BMW when the deputy got to the scene, Higginbotham said.
The SUV the girls abandoned on Victoria Falls was reported stolen out of Greenville, Ill. When it was searched, deputies also found a gun that was reported stolen to authorities in Franklin County, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Grant Bissell said.
The deputy, who was doing a routine patrol of the Falls at Little Creek, had tried to stop the Equinox earlier in the morning for a traffic violation. However, the SUV fled from the deputy, who did not take chase. Later, the deputy spotted the same Equinox, and when he approached the vehicle, the two girls ran, the report said.
Authorities believe the three were attempting to steal from unlocked vehicles, Higginbotham said.
However, the Sheriff’s Office has not received any reports of vehicles being broken into in the area, and it is not known if the females were in the area to attempt to steal from vehicles, Bissell said.
Festus Police Capt. Doug Wendell said the two girls and male suspect are believed to be connected to a vehicle that was damaged in the 2000 block of Iron Mountain Drive in Festus. Wendell said the victim called police at about 8:30 a.m. today to report that an unlocked vehicle was rummaged through and the center console was damaged.
Wendell said surveillance video from Iron Mountain Drive showed suspects who appeared to match the description of the two girls Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested and the man who allegedly drove off in the BMW.
In October, Sheriff Dave Marshak announced he was stepping up patrols because of numerous reports of groups stealing from vehicles in subdivisions, especially ones near highways. One of those incidents occurred Oct. 18 in the Summerfield Parkside Estates subdivision off Seckman Road near the Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial, where a man spotted an alleged would-be thief, confronted him and was shot at but not struck.
On Nov. 13, deputies arrested two men and two teenagers from St. Louis after they allegedly were stealing from unlocked vehicles in the Castle Heights subdivision off Old Antonia Road in Imperial. Those four suspects were arrested following a manhunt and police chase in Imperial.
On Nov. 13, Detective Lt. Brian Taylor said the Sheriff’s Office and other agencies around Jefferson, St. Louis, St. Charles and Franklin counties have identified groups coming from St. Louis to steal items from unlocked vehicles.
He said the groups have ranged from three to as many as nine people attempting to steal from the vehicles.