Suspect in attempted theft injured in high speed crash


A Missouri man with an extensive criminal history was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital for treatment of injuries sustained during a Sunday evening car crash in Waterloo that occurred after he sped away from police at the scene of an attempted vending machine theft.

Pictured is the car that was involved in a high speed crash on South Market Street near Route 3 in Waterloo on Sunday evening. (Kermit Constantine photo)

The incident began around 6:30 p.m. at Sure Shine Auto Wash, 702 N. Market Street.

Quick action by the owner of the car wash, who was watching over the business via security video from his home, prevented the theft.

Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham said the suspect, David T. Albrecht, 52, of Wentzville, Mo. — who has multiple active warrants out for his arrest and a 32-page rap sheet — was responsive at the crash scene but suffered serious injuries after being ejected from the 2014 Volkswagen rental car he was driving.

The chief said Albrecht sped away from the car wash after police and the owner of the business encountered him about the attempted theft of coins from a soda machine caught on security video.

Trantham said Albrecht’s car was partially parked in one of the car wash bays. The first responding officer attempted to block the Volkswagen with his patrol car, but backed it away to avoid getting struck as the car sped off heading south.

Trantham said Albrecht drove at a very high rate of speed south on Market Street, turning off the car’s lights to avoid detection.

The officer briefly gave chase, and another responding officer traveling northbound on Market Street saw the car pass by him heading south. Trantham said his officers halted their pursuit due to the dangerously high rate of speed the car was traveling through town.

The Volkswagen continued south on Market Street and went off the roadway at a curve near Route 3, traveling an estimated 250 feet or more and flipping multiple times before coming to rest in a field.

Trantham said a paramedic who witnessed the crash came to the quick aid of Albrecht, who was ejected from the car, and an ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter was contacted.

“I’m just glad nobody got in his way while he was driving like that,” Trantham said.

Charges are pending, Trantham said, and Columbia police said two recent vending machine thefts committed there “could be related” to the Waterloo case. Albrecht remains at Saint Louis University Hospital in stable condition.

Evidence was collected at the crash scene and also recovered from the suspect’s clothing at the hospital, the chief added.

Monty Wolfe, owner of Sure Shine Auto Wash, said he was watching a live surveillance video feed of his business from home when he observed the man attempting to break into a soda machine and called police. Wolfe arrived at his business around the same time as police, and witnessed the suspect get into the car and narrowly avoid striking a patrol car while speeding out of the parking lot.

A lock was removed from the soda machine, but no money was taken, Wolfe said.

“If I wouldn’t have been paying attention at that time, he probably would’ve taken everything I had,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe told the Republic-Times that after speaking with an employee who had worked there that day, it was discovered the suspect had visited the car wash Sunday morning and again early Sunday evening just prior to the theft attempt. On at least one of these visits, an African American woman was also inside the vehicle.

The car wash employee told Wolfe after the fact that the man seemed suspicious and appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

“He just wasn’t right,” Wolfe said of the suspect.

After looking back at the surveillance video, Wolfe said he could determine the suspect was taking pictures of various locks on coin and vending machines at his car wash during the morning visit.

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