A grand theft of autos

By Thatcher Moats Times Argus Staff - Published: February 2, 2010

BARRE — If police accounts hold true, Jeremiah Sadler is a youth not easily deterred.

Two days after police issued the 18-year-old Washington County resident a citation for an alleged car theft in Montpelier Jan. 7, he stole another car from Barre Town, according to court documents filed Monday in Barre.

Then early yesterday morning he allegedly stole four – that's right four – cars, leading police on a wild high speed car chase and a chase on foot as he continued to enter cars and steal property even as police pursued him through the Mad River Valley.

After police officers caught Sadler at a Summer Street apartment in Barre on Monday morning, he confessed to a host of property crimes, court papers show. Sadler may be the key to a rash of car thefts and larcenies from vehicles in recent weeks, police said.

In Vermont District Court in Barre on Monday, he pleaded innocent to 15 total charges, including one felony count of burglary, four counts of operating a motor vehicle without the owner's consent, attempting to elude police, eight charges of possession of stolen property and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Police said in a news release that Sadler is a suspect in more than 20 stolen car cases and about 100 larcenies from motor vehicles throughout the Washington County area.

If Sadler is determined to be involved, his arrest would be a huge break in solving the car thefts and thefts from cars that have been plaguing Washington County residents since last November.

In a Vermont State Police affidavit supporting 14 of Sadler's charges, a trooper mentioned that other police agencies have been notified of the arrest.

"A county-wide e-mail has been sent to these agencies so that they can get all of their pending investigations involving Sadler typed up and sent to the Washington County State's Attorney's Office for prosecution," trooper Todd Ambroz wrote in his affidavit.

Sadler's alleged Monday morning adventure began with a Ford Escort stolen from Scampini Square in Barre City, which was reported at 12:38 a.m., according to court records.

About 20 minutes later, Sadler dumped the Escort and stole a 2002 Subaru Impreza from Shady Tree Road in Warren, a vehicle that is owned by David Barber, police said.

Just a few minutes later, a man named Francis Fallais reported that his car was broken into on Roxbury Mountain Road.

Fallais chased the suspect in his car and reported he was following a Subaru with a license plate that matched Barber's vehicle, court papers show.

Sadler later told police that he wasn't sure whether Fallais was a cop, so he sped up to 130 mph on East Warren Road, police said.

Sadler eluded Fallais, but soon a police officer tried to stop him near the Sugarbush Access Road in Warren, according to court records.

Sadler refused to stop for the lights and siren, the affidavit states, and he drove up Sugarbush Access Road. Sadler told police he lost control of the car and drove into a field where he finally had to stop, records state, so he jumped out and took off running as the police officer chased him with a flashlight.

As Sadler fled on foot, he continued to enter unlocked cars and steal loose change, the affidavit states.

Sadler ran to Upper Pines Road in Warren, about three-quarters of a mile from where he left the car in the field, records state. He then stole a 1995 white Subaru Impreza that belonged to 22-year-old Stacey Powers, said police.

Sadler took off in this car and continued stealing loose change from three other vehicles, according to police.

Sadler later came upon Fallais again on Moretown Mountain Road, crashed at the intersection of that road and Devil's Washbowl and took off on foot again, police said.

While running along Moretown Mountain Road, Sadler allegedly stole change and prescription medication from an unlocked vehicle.

Eventually, Sadler found another unlocked vehicle with the keys in it: a Kia Sephia that he drove to Barre — crashing into a signpost on the way, the affidavit states.

Sadler parked the vehicle on Summer Street in Barre and walked to a friend's apartment "where he was going to get some sleep after such a long night," court papers state.

Trooper Ambroz signed on at 7 a.m. and learned shortly after that Barre City police officer Sergeant Mark Stupik was using police dog Kazi to track the scent from the stolen Kia on Summer Street, which Barre police had recovered.

Kazi followed the scent from the Kia to an apartment across Summer Street where the dog "alerted" on a door, the affidavit states.

Police knocked on the door, and though a different man answered, police said they could see Sadler in the apartment.

Sadler quickly admitted to taking the Kia, and once he was taken into custody, police said, he allegedly waived his Miranda rights and admitted to other car thefts and gave police details of the pursuit.

Sadler's possession of stolen property charges stem from the wider investigation into the theft of property from unlocked motor vehicles that has been going on for the last three months in central Vermont.

Ambroz executed a search warrant in Barre on Jan. 20 and found stolen property but didn't find Sadler, according to the police report.

The stolen property Ambroz said he found tied Sadler to theft cases mostly from Barre City, Barre Town and Hardwick, court papers state.

But Ambroz conducted the search warrant while Sadler wasn't home and he could not locate Sadler, who was never home when Ambroz came to find him, court papers state.

In recent weeks, Sadler has been listed as having a residence on Summer Street, but court papers state that at the present time, he doesn't have a residence or a job.

In a court document field Monday, he is listed as a Warren resident, which is where his father lives.

All the charges are misdemeanors except the burglary, which is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. In the burglary case, Sadler is charged with being one of two people who kicked in the door of a Warren home. The homeowner, 82-year-old Ruth Schwinge, came home while the burglary was in progress and the two males fled, police said.

Judge Brian Grearson granted the state's $1,000 bail request, citing the strength of the evidence the multitude of charges and the weight of the evidence.

"The evidence is strong in these matters," Grearson said, "to a great extent by his own admissions."

During Sadler's confession, he told police that all the cars he stole and all the cars he entered in order to steal property were unlocked, Ambroz said at the courthouse.

Subaru's were particularly reliable targets, he told Ambroz.

"He said: 'I go for Subaru's because Subaru owners leave their cars unlocked with the keys in it all the time,'" said Ambroz.

Police encourage residents to remove their keys from vehicles and lock their doors.

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