When will they ever learn? Fleeing the police in a vehicle never ends well for the numbskull driving the vehicle or the passengers in the vehicle.

Eight times out of 10, the chase ends with the fleeing driver in handcuffs on his or her way to jail. Two out of 10 times, the driver and his passengers end up hospitalized or dead after wrapping the vehicle around a stout tree or telephone pole and for what. A failed effort to avoid a traffic citation? Sometimes.

Usually, however, the driver of the fleeing vehicle is guilty of having committed another, more serious crime, such as possessing illegal drugs or other contraband. He or she is willing to risk the inherent dangers of a vehicle chase to avoid imminent arrest on other charges.

Such was the case Sept. 24 when Killeen police responded to a shoplifting complaint and encountered a suspicious male in the parking lot. When police attempted to stop the suspect, he fled in a Dodge pickup, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph as he headed toward Copperas Cove. The suspect was ultimately stopped and arrested in Cove. Fortunately in this case, no one was injured and there was no property damage. Under Texas law, evading arrest in a vehicle is a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state facility.

The punishment upon conviction of this crime is severe for a purpose. Foremost is the legislature’s effort to impose a deterrent to those who feel it is worthwhile to place the safety of the general public in peril to avoid a citation for a misdemeanor traffic violation. Secondly, it is intended to punish the fool who does it.

Frankly, considering the potential for disaster inherent to vehicle chases, I don’t think the punishment range is sufficiently severe. Innocent people die during these imbecilic episodes.

Once the chaser has a description of the fleeing driver’s vehicle, a description of the driver and even a partial license plate identification, there is nowhere the driver can hide, either during the chase or during the inevitable subsequent investigation. No vehicle is faster than the police communications radio.

  • Jury duty scam

And it’s back. The jury duty scam has returned to central Texas. While scams of all description are highly mobile, they inevitably return to fertile grounds. Most susceptible to these con games are the elderly and those unknowledgeable of government functions.

So far, Bell County has been the target of this scam. But as it grows mold there, it will get legs and move to Coryell County.

A man calls residents to say they missed a jury summons and are being fined for the failure. The underlying threat is that a fine must be paid or an arrest will ensue. Victims of this scam are instructed to obtain a money order with further instruction on how and where to send it.

The caller identifies himself as a deputy sheriff, and uses the names Watts, Washington and Watson. Other names also may be used.

No governmental agency will ever contact residents by phone for any legitimate collection purposes. Do not fall for these unscrupulous tactics. If you receive calls of this nature, do not respond. Hang up and notify local law enforcement.

Thefts/burglaries/Robberies

Nine thefts, one burglary and a robbery were reported to police this week, keeping us on a disturbing trend.

  • A video game system was reported stolen Sept. 21 in the 700 block of Mickan Street.
  • An attempted burglary of a residence was reported Sept. 22 in the 2000 block of Freedom Lane.
  • A car stereo was reported stolen from a retailer Sept. 22 in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Food and clothing items were reported stolen Sept. 23 from a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of a bicycle was reported Sept. 23 in the 900 block of South 25th Street.
  • The theft of a throne valued at $350 was reported Sept. 24 in the 900 block of Fritz Court.
  • The theft of currency was reported Sept. 24 in the 100 block of North Drive.
  • A 2000 Dodge vehicle and multiple cellphones were reported stolen Sept. 24 in the 2100 block of Wayne Street.
  • A firearm was reported stolen Sept. 25 in the 700 block of Constitution Drive.
  • A robbery was reported Sept. 25 in the 500 block of North First Street. A wallet and contents valued at $25 was stolen.
  • A speaker valued at $199 was reported stolen Sept. 25 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • A vehicle (no description) was reported stolen Sept. 26 in the 2900 block of Sunflower Trail.
  • The theft of a bicycle was reported Sept. 26 on South Drive.
  • A shoplifting theft was reported Sept. 26 at a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.

Assaults

Five assaults, four of them involving family violence, were reported to police this week. These numbers continue to be worrisome.

  • An assault by contact was reported Sept. 23 in the 200 block of North Drive.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Sept. 23 in the 600 block of Judy Lane.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence and criminal mischief were reported Sept. 23 in the 2100 block of Brantley Avenue.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Sept. 21 in the 1600 block of Donna Avenue.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Sept. 24 in the 400 block of North Second Street.

Other crimes

  • Injury to a child, bodily injury was reported Sept. 21. Location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • Possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces was reported Sept. 21 in the 700 block of Sunny Avenue. An arrest was made.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Sept. 21 in the 1000 block of Couples Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Sept. 21 in the 600 block of North Main Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Sept. 24 in the 800 block of North Fifth Street.
  • Graffiti, with damage valued at $1,800 to vehicles and a house, was reported Sept. 25 in the 1000 block of South 21st Street.
  • Forgery of a financial instrument was reported Sept. 24 in the 300 block of Town Square.
  • Forging/altering a prescription was reported Sept. 24 in the 800 block of East Avenue D.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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